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This river is navigable for some distance, but it is obstructed by 'rafts' and trees. Its banks are very bold; its depth of water considerable, and, being narrow, falling trees often impede its navigation. The Currents, Eleven Points, Strawberry, and Spring rivers are tributaries to Big Black river, and are all navigable, or could easily be rendered so. They rise in the very heart of the mineral region. I do not doubt that an accurate survey of those rivers would prove that an appropriation of $20,000 would be sufficient to remove the 'raft' on Big Black river, and all other obstructions to its navigation, and that of its tributaries. The river St. François rises, also, in the mineral district before spoken of, and has its course east of Big Black, and parallel to that of the Mississippi, into which it disembogues in about 34° 30' north latitude. The St. François is a noble stream, running through the centre of the alluvial country before described, which is public land, and might be made navigable for steamboats as far as Greenville, in Missouri. It is, however, obstructed by rafts of various lengths, most of which are within the Territory of Arkansas.

"These rafts might be cut out in one season, and the river restored to its ancient channel. An immediate consequence of this would be, that the waters which are now packed in the small tributaries, bayous, and lakes, would be liberated the succeeding season. The extensive swamps would then be sufficiently dried up to admit of an examination and survey of the whole country, a great part of which, especially the southern part, contains cotton-lands of the finest quality, all of which are now entirely lost to the public, owing to the inundated state of the country. To such a wilderness is this of the country reduced by reason of the waters, that many high and fertile areas are entirely cut off from communication with the inhabited portion of the country. The navigation of the St. François being once opened to Greenville by the removal of the rafts, and the timber cut down from its banks, with a view to keep it permanently free, the great mineral region might then be said to be reached, as many of its richest deposites are in the neighbour


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hood of this river. The alluvial country through which the St. François finds its way to the Mississippi is of so extraordinary a character as to merit, in connexion with this subject, a few observations, and which, it is hoped, will not appear irrelevant or uninteresting, although many of them appeared in another place. Two or three miles below the town of Cape Girardeau, the great swamp begins, and which at this point separates the highlands in Cape Girardeau county from those in Scott county. The swamp here appears once to have been the bed of a river whose course has been changed; the rocks on each side are strongly marked by long-continued friction, as if they had formed walls to a great body of water. Whether this was the St. François, which, augmented in size by receiving the Castor, White Water, and many smaller streams, discharged itself into the Mississippi near Cape Girardeau, or an ancient bed of the Mississippi itself, which might have taken a sweep to the west along the base of the hills in Missouri, receiving the St. François and innumerable tributaries in its course to the high grounds visible at Helena, near the present embouchure of the St. François, is matter for the indulgence of speculation. From the town of Cape Girardeau to Helena, below the mouth of the St. François, is a distance of several hundred miles, and from the banks of the Mississippi to the high grounds in Missouri and Arkansas will average sixty or seventy miles. The greater part of this area, with the exception of a narrow belt stretching along the border of the Mississippi, is covered by an immense morass, inundated by the overflowing of the 'father of waters,' or submerged by the rushing torrents from the neighbouring hills, the principal of which is the St. François. These streams, having their origin in elevated regions, when flushed by heavy rains or dissolving snows, fall into this great basin with tremendous force, and either from obstructions which actually exist, like the rafts on Red river, or from not having sufficient descent to carry off the rapidly-accumulating waters, spread over the country, giving it the appearance of a vast lake, over which magnificent forests of cypress and other gigantic trees wave their

branches in gloomy solitude. In the midst of this wilderness islands of rock and elevated portions of land appear of various dimensions, like oases in a desert, and denominated by the French cote sans dessein,' or hills without design. How came these lost hills in this position? The most reasonable answer that suggests itself to that question, in my opinion, is, that the far greater portion of this gloomy region, annually covered by water, and at all seasons by a heavy growth of timber, and thick canebrakes, closely interwoven by many plants of the convolvulous order, was once high ground, but during some convulsion of nature sunk to its present general level, leaving spots unaffected to tower in grandeur over the surrounding scene of desolation. At the same time the St. François, forced from its bed or ancient channel, was compelled to seek its devious way to the Mississippi through lakes, lagoons, and slimy quagmires. Nor is this opinion altogether unsupported by facts, or based on mere conjecture. The memorable earthquake of December, 1811, after shaking the valley of the Mississippi to its centre, vibrated along the courses of the rivers and valleys, and, passing the primitive mountain barriers, died away along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. In the region now under consideration, during the continuance of so appalling a phenomenon, which commenced by distant rumbling sounds, succeeded by discharges as if a thousand pieces of artillery were suddenly exploded, the earth rocked to and fro, vast chasms opened, from whence issued columns of water, sand, and coal, accompanied by hissing sounds, caused, perhaps, by the escape of pent-up steam, while ever and anon flashes of electricity gleamed through the troubled clouds of night, rendering the darkness doubly horrible. The current of the Mississippi, pending this elemental strife, was driven back upon its source with the greatest velocity for several hours, in consequence of an elevation of its bed. But this noble river was not thus to be stayed in its course. Its accumulated waters came booming on, and, o'ertopping the barrier thus suddenly raised, carried every thing before them with resistless power. Boats, then floating on its surface, shot down

the declivity like an arrow from a bow, amid roaring billows and the wildest commotion. A few days' action of its powerful current sufficed to wear away every vestige of the barrier thus strangely interposed, and its waters moved on in their wonted channel to the ocean. The day that succeeded this night of terror brought no solace in its dawn. Shock followed shock; a dense black cloud of vapour overshadowed the land, through which no struggling sunbeam found its way to cheer the desponding heart of man, who, in silent communion with himself, was compelled to acknowledge his weakness and dependance on the everlasting God. The appearances that presented themselves after the subsidence of the principal commotion were such as strongly support an opinion heretofore advanced. Hills had disappeared, and lakes were found in their stead; and numerous lakes became elevated ground, over the surface of which vast heaps of sand were scattered in every direction, while in many places the earth for miles was sunk below the general level of the surrounding country, without being covered with water, leaving an impression in miniature of a catastrophe much more important in its effects, which had, perhaps, preceded it ages before. One of the lakes formed on this occasion is sixty or seventy miles in length, and from three to twenty in breadth. It is in some places very shallow; in others from fifty to one hundred feet deep, which is much more than the depth of the Mississippi river in that quarter. In sailing over its surface in the light canoe, the voyager is struck with astonishment at beholding the giant trees of the forest standing partially exposed amid a waste of waters, branchless and leafless. But the wonder is still further increased on casting the eye on the dark-blue profound, to observe canebrakes covering its bottom, over which a mammoth species of testudo is occasionally seen dragging his slow length along, while countless myriads of fish are sporting through the aquatic thickets. But, if God in his wrath has passed over this devoted land; if he touched the mountains and they disappeared in the abyss, his beneficent influence is still felt in its soft climate, the unexampled fertility of its soil, the deep verdure of its forests,

and the choicest offerings of Flora. The lost hills or islands before mentioned are of various dimensions; some twenty or thirty miles in circumference, others not so large, and some are even diminutive in size, but of great altitude, occasionally furnished with fountains of living water, and all well timbered. The low grounds are in the form of basins, connected by sinuses, which not being as deep as the bottom of their reservoirs, so that when an inundation takes place, either from the Mississippi river or streams issuing from the surrounding highlands, they are filled to overflowing; and when the waters recede below a level with these points of communication, they become stagnant pools, passing off by the process of infiltration, which is very slow, in a thick, black, tenacious loam, or by evaporation equally gradual, in a country covered by forests and impenetrable jungle. An interesting question now presents itself, certainly one deeply interesting to the people of Missouri and Arkansas. What can be done to render this extraordinary country a fit habitation for man? In its present condition it is nearly useless, affording winter pasturage to some herds of cattle belonging to farmers on its borders, and a safe cover to bands of wild and savage animals, on the destruction of which a few hunters gain a precarious existence, amid noisome exhalations and venomous reptiles. The government of the United States, lord over millions upon millions of acres of land, possessing every advantage, will not, in all probability, for ages to come, incur a heavy expense for the purpose of reclaiming this country from its present deplorable condition, unless a commensurate good could be effected. There will be no difficulty in finding motives in the cupidity or interest of Congress (if in no better motive) to make a liberal appropriation for this object.

"By clearing the St. François of its rafts, a much larger volume of water will flow in its channel, which is now spread over the country, to be again returned by its inosculating branches; which concentration of its water would, from year to year, augment its depth at the places where the rafts existed, which, with deepening the points of communication between the lakes and bayous,

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