A NOTICE of its Mountains?
For the particular geography of our mountains I must refer to Fry and Jefferson's map Joshua Fry (1699-1754) and Peter Jefferson (1708-57), Thomas Jefferson's father, drew a well-known map of Virginia and Maryland in 1751. of Virginia; and to Evans's Lewis Evans (c. 1700-56) was a cartographer who published two important maps: A Map of Pennsylvania, New York, and the Three Delaware Counties (1749) and A General Map of the Middle British Colonies in America, which was published with a pamphlet of analysis entitled Geographical, Historical, Political, Philosophical and Mechanical Essays (1755). analysis of his map of America for a more philosophical view of them than is to be found in any other work. It is worthy notice, that our mountains are not solitary and scattered confusedly over the face of the country; but that they commence at about 150 miles from the sea-coast, are disposed in ridges one behind another, running nearly parallel with the sea-coast, though rather approaching it as they advance north-eastwardly. To the south-west, as the tract of country between the sea-coast and the Mississipi becomes narrower, the mountains converge into a single [ 26 ][ 27 ] This is present-day Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. through the Blue ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature. You stand on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain an hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Patowmac, in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their junction they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder, and pass off to the sea. The first glance of this scene hurries our senses into the opinion, that this earth has been created in time, that the mountains were formed first, that the rivers began to flow afterwards, that in this place particularly they have been dammed up by the Blue ridge of mountains, and have formed an ocean which filled the whole valley; that continuing to rise they have at length broken over at this spot, and have torn the mountain down from its summit to its base. The piles of rock on each hand, but particularly on the Shenandoah, the evident marks of their disrupture and avulsion from their beds by the most powerful agents of nature, corroborate the impression. But the distant finishing which nature has given to the [ 28 ] Natural Bridge, a striking geological formation in Rockbridge County, Virginia. Jefferson had purchased it in 1774. See also Jefferson's longer discussion, beginning on page 35., are people who have passed their lives within half a dozen miles, and have never been to survey these monuments of a war between rivers and mountains,which must have shaken the earth itself to its center. (2). — The height of our mountains has not yet been estimated with any degree of exactness. The Alleghaney being the great ridge which divides the waters of the Atlantic from those [ Tip-in 12, Page 1 ]
To what is here said on the height of mountains, subsequent information has enabled me to furnish some additions & corrections.
Genl. Williams, nephew of Dr. Franklin on a journey from Richm.d by the warm and red Springs to the Alleganey, has estimated by barometrical observns the height of some of our ridges of mountains above the tidewater as follows:
|the Eastern base of the Blue ridge subjacent to Rockfish Gap||100.|
|summit of the mountain adjacent to that gap||1822.|
|the valley constituting the Eastern basis of the Warmspring mountn||943|
|Summit of the Warmspring mountain||2247|
|the Western valley of the Warmspring mountain, being the Eastern base of the Alleganey||949|
|summit of the Alleganey 6. mi. S.W. of the Red springs||2760|
In Nov. 1815. with a Ramsden’s theodolite of 3½ I. radius, with nonius divisions to
3′ and a base of 1¼ mile on the low grounds of Otter River, distant 4 miles from the
summits of the two peaks of Otter, I measured geometrically their heights above the
water of the river at it's base, and found that of the sharp or S. peak 2946½
that of the flat or N. peak 3103½
as we may with confidence say that the base of the Peaks is at least as high above the tidewater at Richmd as that of the Blue Ridge at Rockfish gap (being 40. miles farther Westward) and their highest summit of course 3203½ f above that tidewater, it follows that the summit of the highest peak is 343½ f. higher than that of the Alleganey, as measured by Genl. Williams.
The highest of the White Mountains in N.H. by barometrical estimate made by Captain Partridge, was found to be 4885. f. from it's base, and the highest of the Catskill mountains in N. York 3105. feet.
Two observns with an excellent pocket sextant gave a mean of 37°-28'-50" for the lat. of the sharp Peak of Otter.
Baron Humboldt states that in lat. 37°. (which is nearly over medium parallel) perpetual snow is nowhere known so low as 1200. toises = 7671. feet above the level of the sea & in sesquialtoral ratio nearly to the highest peak of Otter.
[ 29 ]A formation of two mountains in Bedford County, Virginia., are thought to be of a greater height, measured from their base, than any others in our country, and perhaps in North America. From data, which may found a tolerable conjecture, we suppose the highest peak to be about 4000 feet perpendicular, which is not a fifth part of the height of the mountains of South America, nor one third of the height which would be necessary in our latitude to preserve ice in the open air unmelted through the year. The ridge of mountains next beyond the Blue ridge, called by us the North mountain, is of the greatest extent; for which reason they were named by the Indians the Endless mountains.
A substance supposed to be Pumice, found floating on the Missisipi, has induced a conjecture, that there is a volcano on some of its waters: and as these are mostly known to their sources, except the Missouri, our expectations of verifying the conjecture would of course be led to the mountains which [ 30 ]