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As you enter the river from the Sound, the land on both sides is quite low and level; but, as you proceed, it gradually becomes more elevated and broken, and quarries are seen in the hill sides, which have not unfrequently been mistaken by strangers for those which are made the subject of this article. But the stone here obtained is very hard, and of a gray VOL. III, No. 2.-U
FREESTONE QUARRIES, PORTLAND, CONNECTICUT.
BEAUTIFUL is the valley of the Con- color, and is used chiefly for flagging.
Indeed, for many miles the observant traveler will perceive that the rocks bear no resemblance to sandstone, but are entirely granitic in their character.
necticut. The river rises near the Canada line, flowing southward between the White Mountains of New-Hampshire on the east, and the Green Mountains of Vermont on the west, and, meandering through the hills of Massachusetts and Connecticut, soon reaches the city of Middletown. Here it forsakes what must be considered its natural channel, and sweeping off in a direction nearly due-east, finds its way through lofty granite hills for the distance of two miles, when it again turns to the southward, and empties into Long Island Sound, some twenty-five miles east of New-Haven-the termination of the valley proper. Others may descant upon its verdant slopes, and towering hills, and pretty villages, but to us there is a charm in its bare old rocks.
A beautiful sail, of some twenty-five miles, will bring you to a pleasing village, called Middle Haddam, one of the numerous Haddams which line the shores of the Connecticut. Directly north of the village a granite hill rises to the hight of nearly eight hundred feet, called Cobalt Mountain, from the fact that a mine of this rare metal is found in its sides. This hill, as we learn from the diary of Dr. Stiles, formerly president of Yale College, was, in "days of yore," known as "Governor Winthrop's Gold Ring;" that gentleman, it is said, being accustomed to visit the place, with his servant, searching for the precious metals; and "after his return he always had plenty of gold."
Soon after leaving Middle Haddam you enter "The Straits," where the bases of the high granite hills press closely upon the river, affording it but a narrow pas sage, which seems, in some strange manner, to have been unexpectedly opened, to allow the river, as by a side cut, to escape
from its natural valley, and find its way nearly every city of our Union, and is to the Sound. commonly called freestone, probably from the facility with which it is worked; but by geologists it is known as sandstone-a name which implies its supposed origin, it having evidently been formed, in some past age of the world's history, by vast quantities of sand, gravel, and pebbles, subsequently cemented into solid masses by the operation of causes which cannot now be fully explained. It occurs in regular strata, or beds, which are not perfectly horizontal, but incline a little in a south-easterly direction. Here, and throughout the whole Connecticut valley, it is of a deep brick-red color; but in other places, as in the vicinity of Washington, in Nova Scotia, and Ohio, a similar stone is found of a gray color. The common grindstones may be taken as specimens.
At an early period some grindstones appear to have been made of the Portland stone, but it is too hard to answer well for this purpose; but for buildings, and almost every use to which it is applied, it is probably superior to any other kind. It withstands well the action of the weather, and is very easily worked; while its dark color, in almost every situation, is exceedingly pleasing to the eye.
The quarries at present worked
are three in number, known severally, beginning at the north, as the Middlesex, the Brainerds & Co.'s, and the Shailer & Hall's. A fourth quarry, not now worked, and an ancient burying-ground, shown in our cuts and map, separate between the two first named. They extend a distance, up and down the river, of half a mile, and cover, perhaps, nearly a hundred acres. Everywhere, except just at the water's edge, the stone was originally covered with earth, from one to twenty-five feet deep, all of which, as a matter of course, has to
Emerging from "The Straits," in your upward passage, the soil on both banks is seen to be entirely changed. Before it was granitic, with a scanty vegetation; now it becomes alluvial, and the gently undulating surface spreads out into fertile fields. Here, for the first time, are seen the distinguishing characteristics of the true valley of the Connecticut.
Half a mile above "The Straits" a small stream enters the Connecticut from the west, and in the little valley it has excavated occurs the Middletown silver mine, which appears formerly to have been worked-sometimes for lead, sometimes for silver, and sometimes for sulphur, according to the fancy or want of the operators.
The Portland quarries, as shown in the map, are situated directly on the bank of the river; and tradition informs us that, when they were first opened, the rocky strata projected quite into the river, and even overhung the channel. But the work of excavation, which has been going on for two centuries, has removed the seat of operations further back, and the bank of the river is now formed by the rubbish which has accumulated.
The stone here obtained is an elegant and durable building material, used in
be removed before the stone can be quarried; and the disposal of this, with the refuse stone, constitutes no small item of expense in the working of the quarries.
The above is a view of the Shailer & Hall quarry, and exhibits a part of the deep pit which has been sunk by the removal of the rock, with some portion of the buildings containing the steam-engine, and machinery used for the purpose. It looks toward the south-west, and shows a part of the city of Middletown in the distance, and the ferry between that city and Portland.
To avoid inconvenience from the water, the excavations at first were not very deep, but in all the quarries they now penetrate the strata to a depth many feet below the level of the river. In one of them the descent is made by an inclined road, and the stone removed by teams; but in the others, the cut is made perpendicularly downward on all sides, and the stone, after being separated from its native bed, is drawn up by steam power; masses several tons in weight seeming but as playthings
when bound in the chain and handled by this element.
The map and cuts present to the eye an island which divides the stream, and has been formed, as the old inhabitants aver, within the last seventy years, or a little more. It now contains several acres of land and a fine growth of trees, although covered with water in time of great freshets. The ferry of the New-York and Boston Rail-road will probably be established near this place.
As the excavations in the quarries are carried below the level of the river, the water of course is constantly entering through joints and fissures in the stone, and to remove it pumps are kept constantly at work. These were at first worked by ox or horse power, but since a steamengine was introduced for raising the stone, the same power has been attached to the pumps.
The cut at the head of our article gives a view of the quarries looking northward, from a point in the quarry of Shailer & Hall; on every side are seen masses of
stone, which are left for a time upon the bank in order to be reduced to the proper dimensions, before being sent to the market. In the foreground, a team is seen drawing a huge mass of stone from the deep pit in which it was dug to the bank above. This is the quarry of Brainerds & Co., from the deepest part of which the ascent is made by teams, as we have already said, on an inclined road. In the background is a mound of considerable elevation, which has been raised to its present hight by deposits of earth and rubbish from the quarries.
The workmen are aided much in quarrying the rock by natural joints or seams, most of which are nearly vertical, and some of great horizontal extent. They are usually but little inclined from a vertical position, and though sometimes of limited extent, yet a few have been traced the whole distance the rock has been laid
Most of the more extensive ones take a general direction either north and south, or east and west, but this is not uniformly the
By the side of one of these the workmen usually make their beginning, frequently by blasting, but often, also, by cutting a channel or groove of sufficient width quite through the bed or layer. Having done this on two sides, the stone can generally be removed by means of wedges, unless it is wanted in larger blocks, when the excavation must extend to three sides, before the wedges can be made available.
As would be expected, the rock separates or splits with great ease in planes parallel to the stratification, but not so readily in other directions. To split a mass in a plane parallel to the stratification, therefore, a few small wedges suffice, which are driven into small holes made with the point of the pick; but when the separation is to be made in any other direction, a deep and wider groove has to be cut, into which large steel wedges are driven by a hammer as heavy as the sturdiest man can wield.
These quarries were opened at a very early day, and the preservation of the excellent stone there for the use of the rightful owners early engaged the fostering care of the citizens, as is shown by the following extract from the Middletown records, Portland and Chatham at that time constituting a part of Middletown.
"Sept. 4, 1665. At a town meeting it was voated that whosoever shall dig or raise stones at ye rocks on the east side of the river, for any without the town, the said digger shall be none but an inhabitant of Middletown, and shall bee responsible to ye towne twelve pence pr. tunn, for every tunu of stones that he or they shall digg for any person whosoever without the town; this money to be paid in wheat and pease to ye townsmen or their assigns, for ye use of ye towne, within six months after the transportation of the said stones. It was also agreed that the inhabitants doo freely give Mr. Richards the freight which Skipper Plumb is now taking in.”
The business at these quarries is now immense. For several years past they have employed, during eight months of the year, some fifteen hundred men, and perhaps one hundred and twenty yoke of And a fleet of perhaps thirty or forty sloops and half as many spans of horses. and schooners have been required to convey the stone to market, and the expense of working the quarries during the season of activity probably exceeds one hundred thousand dollars per month.
By concert among the proprietors, the hours established for dayly labor are uniform, and bargains are usually made with the men for the season of eight months. Work begins at six o'clock in the morning, and closes at sunset; two hours being allowed at noon, and a short
recess of ten or fifteen minutes in the forenoon for a luncheon. The average, therefore, for the season is only about ten hours of labor per day; and we must not omit saying, that during the summer, an abundant supply of the best of water, with ice, is kept in places easily accessible by
We have already accidentally alluded to the probable origin of these rocks, but our readers may expect from us something more on the subject. That all matter was at first called into being by the word of the Creator is the universal sentiment of the Christian world; but whether at the creation he gave the earth, with all its rocky strata, its present conformation of surface, beautifully diversified with hill and dale, continent and ocean, is plainly another question, on which there may not be a perfect uniformity of opinion.
will, however, do him the justice to believe he did not mean to affirm it of a suit of geological specimens, or of the rocky strata from which they were obtained! These 'things," contrary to the very positive assertion of the poet, must, we believe, be exactly what they seem," and nothing else. What a libel is the opposite opinion upon the works of nature, and their divine Author! Nature does not thus constantly carry a lie upon her face: with her is no hypocrisy, she is always just what she professes to be.
Starting, then, with this principle, what internal evidences have we of the origin and history of these rocky strata?
The first thing that strikes us is the regular stratification of the rocks, which we must believe to have been produced in the same manner as in other cases. But no natural process is known, or believed to exist, by which solid matter, like sand and gravel, can be thus spread out in immense strata, but the moving force of water; which is therefore believed to have produced the phenomena before us.
Our attention is next engaged by the indications we find in the rocky strata of the existence of animal and vegetable life, at the time of their deposition. These are chiefly the footprints or tracks of birds and other animals, and occasionally the occurrence of some portion of a plant Things are what they seem!
or a tree.
The above cut has been made to represent, as near as may be, the surface of a slab of stone from one of the quarries. The surface represented was the under side of the stratum, as it lay in its native bed; and the tracks which are seen are in relief that is, they are the natural casts of the real tracks which were made in the stratum next beneath.
much more likely to be overlooked; and the cabinets collected by the curious always contain a larger number of casts of tracks than of the real tracks, though the latter are not wanting.
Under a specimen like the above will, of course, always be found the real track, or impression of the foot; but as they do not show so distinctly, they are therefore
The footprints in our cut evidently belong to the specimens described by Dr. Hitchcock under the name of Ornithichnite Tuberosus; and the supposed bird that made them he calls the Brontozoum Sillimanianum. The tracks in this specimen indicate a foot about six inches in length, and a step of nearly two feet. The species is probably more abundant than any other about the Portland quarries, and perhaps we may say in this vicinity.
But are these impressions really tracks? that is, are they what they seem to be? The very satisfactory reply to this query is that their character answers every demand required by this supposition. First, when several of these impressions occur in succession, the toes of each separate track point in the same direction; but if the impressions were not tracks, how shall this peculiarity be accounted for? Secondly, they severally answer to right and left feet. Thirdly, the distances between successive impressions of the same series is very uniform, just as we should expect in the real tracks. Fourthly, the distance between the impressions,which answers to the length of the step, is proportionate to the size of the foot, as indicated by the track. The larger the footprint the greater the length of the step. Finally, these impressions have always been made downward and not upward. This accords exactly with their proper character as tracks, but would be very strange if the impression were made in some other mode, as by animal or vegetable substances accidentally thrown upon the mud.
Another circumstance, not a little interesting, is sometimes to be noticed in connection with these impressions, and accords with the view we have taken of their supposed origin. The irregular markings in the cut represent small ridges upon the stone, which have resulted from the shrinkage of the soft mud by the heat of the sun, as we often see in times of drought. Now