Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852 / by Randolph B. Marcy ; assisted by George B. McClellan. Page: 72 of 368
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the bed of the river to such a height as, for a great portion of the day,
to exclude the rays of the sun, were worn away, by the lapse of time
and the action of the water and the weather, into the most fantastic
forms, that required but little effort of the imagination to convert into
works of art, and all united in forming one of the grandest and most
picturesque scenes that can be imagined. We all, with one accord,
stopped and gazed with wonder and admiration upon a panorama
which was now for the first time exhibited to the eyes of civilized man.
Occasionally might be seen a good representation of the towering walls
of a castle of the feudal ages, with its giddy battlements pierced with
loopholes, and its projecting watch-towers standing out in bold relief
upon the azure ground of the pure and transparent sky above. In other
places our fancy would metamorphose the escarpments into a bastion
front, as perfectly modelled and constructed as if it had been a production
of the genius of Vauban, with redoubts and salient angles all
arranged in due order. Then, again, we would see a colossal specimen
of sculpture representing the human figure, with all the features of the
face, which, standing upon its lofty pedestal, overlooks the valley, and
seems to have been designed and executed by the Almighty artist as
the presiding genius of these dismal solitudes.
All here was crude nature, as it sprang into existence at the fiat of
the Almighty architect of the universe, still preserving its primeval
type, its unreclaimed sublimity and wildness; and it forcibly inspired me
with that veneration which is justly due to the high antiquity of nature's
handiworks, and which seems to increase as we consider the solemn and
important lesson that is taught us in reflecting upon their continued
permanence when contrasted with our own fleeting and momentary
On climbing up to the summit of the escarpment over the head of
the spring, we found ourselves upon the level plain of the "Llano estacado,"
which spreads out from here in one uninterrupted desert, to the
base of the mountains east of the Rio Grande. The geographical position
of this point, as determined by courses and distances from the
place where we left the wagons, is in latitude 34 42' north, and longitude
103 7' 11" west; and its approximate elevation above the sea, as
determined by frequent and careful barometric observations, is 2,450
The geological formation is different here from what it is below, inasmuch
as we find no gypsum; and the moment we passed this mineral,
(which was only about two miles before we reached the head of the
river,) the water became at once sweet and good.
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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/m1/72/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .