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