Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hibernicus - Letter VII

Submitted by Dick Palmer

(Extract from: "Letters on the Natural History and Internal Resources of the State of New York"
By Hibernicus (DeWitt Clinton) New York, 1822)

Geneva, June, 1820.

My Dear Sir,

Just before you arrive at Syracuse, 61 miles from Utica, you meet with the two first locks on the canal. Here are three which let you down into the Salina Plain. These locks are made of lime and sand stone. Both abound with marine exuviae and organic remains. I never saw more substantial erections. The water cement made use of is derived from a mixture of sand and a meager lime stone found all over this country, and is said to be superior to any hydraulic mortar ever used. I had at Utica an account of this discovery from a Dr. Bartow, one of the agents of the Canal Board, a gentleman, who possesses a great fund of information, which he was by no mean parsimonious in imparting. I spent thee hours very pleasantly with the Doctor at the great Utica Hotel. He informs me that on a chemical analysis, it is proved that the component parts are not the same with the Septarium Lias or Aberthlaw lime of Great Britain - that he and Mr. White, one of the Canal engineers, had originated and matured the discovery and that it had been successfully tried in cisterns as well as locks, and found to unite stones as firmly and solidly as if they had been originally joined by the hand of nature.

The Doctor states the constituents to be as follows: to wit.
35 parts carbonic acid, 25 lime, 15 silex, 16 alumine, (. 33) 2 water, 1 oxide of iron.

After the process of calcination, it is to be ground, and then mixed with an equal weight of clean sand, which will be twice as bulky as the lime, and it must be mixed with clear water, as little as possible.

I am told that a great limestone ridge runs through the whole of this country, east and west - that north of it a ledge of gypsum commences; also a range of salines - and that on the borders of the gypsum and salt regions, there is a tier of limestone alternating with sandstone, and full of organic remains; adjacent to which the water lime is found - and that this valuable fossil is in great abundance over a line of country of at least 100 miles extent. The most eastern salt spring as yet discovered is about 25 miles west of Utica; at the same distance gypsum commences. This affinity between salt and gypsum exists all over the world. I find the geology of this country most extraordiniry; it is sui generis.


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