A LECTURE

on the

GEOLOGY OF THE STATE OF INDIANA,

delivered in the

HALL OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AT INDI-
ANAPOLIS, THURSDAY EVENING, JANUARY 22, 1852.



BY R. T. BROWN, A. M., M. D.

INDIANAPOLIS:
Printed by Austin H. Brown.
1852.


[3]
LECTURE.


Ages and centuries of the history of our race passed away before the eye of science detected any order or uniformity in the strata composing the solid crust of our globe, or the relation which exists between these several strata and the mineral treasures that lie embosomed therein. Geology is a younger sister in the great family of human sciences, though it treats of facts and incidents which, in point of antiquity, render the remotest events recorded in history as the deeds of yesterday. It is the history of the progress of creation -- a record of those momentous changes -- those stupendous convulsions that have, from time to time, passed over our planet, marring the worlds that were, and making the world that is -- a record written on no frail parchment by human pen, but engraven on mountains and plains, and stereotyped in rocks by the hand of the Omnipotent.
But we came not here this evening to read this ponderous volume. Our present errand is merely to have a plain, unpretending talk with you on the Geology of Indiana, as an element of wealth to the State. In introducing this subject, permit me to say that Geology naturally divides itself into three great chapters, to-wit:


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First. -- Scientific Geology.
Second. -- Economical Geology.
Third. -- Scenographic Geology.
Passing briefly over the first, we shall devote the evening mainly to the consideration of the second division of our subject.
There is a law of position which assigns to each stratum of rock its place in the geological scale, and out of this place it is never found unless where volcanic agency, or some tremendous convulsion has inverted the strata. It is on the uniformity of this law of position that the science of Geology is built. Conforming to this law, the rocks of the globe are divided into two great families: the Azoic and the Palæzoic, or those rocks that contain no remains of life, either animal or vegetable; and those which contain unmistakeable remains of living organisms. The former of these divisions is referred, in its origin, to a period prior to the existence of life on the globe. These azoic rocks compose the lower strata -- or rather they are never found (unless by displacement) above the life-bearing rocks. This group has been denominated the "Primary Formations," and is subdivided into Igneous and Sedimentary. Above these lie the Transition group, the lowest member of the Palæzoic class. This group has been subdivided into the Cambrian and Selurian series. To this succeeds, in the ascending scale, the Secondary group, comprising the old Red Sandstone, or its equivalent, the Mountain Limestone, the Carboniferous or Coal-bearing Formations, and the new Red Sandstone. Then follows the Tertiary group, crowned by the drift of what has been called the Glacial period. Had the rocky shell of our earth remained in the horizontal position is which we suppose it to have been deposited, little or nothing could have been known beyond the uniform surface of the upper


5
stratum, and Geology, as a science, would never have been born. But the internal convulsions of the globe have depressed certain portions of the surface, while others have been upheaved; and the denuding influence of currents of water has cut down those upheaved portions, thus exposing on the surface the lower formations, which must otherwise have forever remained concealed. To this group of causes we are indebted for that important geological index, "THE DIP" of the stratum -- by which we mean the inclination to the horizon of any given stratum of rock. Following the direction of the dip in tracing any rock, we shall find it losing itself beneath the outcrop of an upper series, while this in its turn dips under and is covered by a still higher member in the geological scale; and thus, while we may be traveling on a line really horizontal, we may ascend the whole geological scale. It will be proper here to remark, that the different formations alluded to are not distinguished from each other by the external appearance of the rocks, nor by their chemical composition, but by the character of their fossil remains -- the relics of animals and vegetables that have been preserved in these stony coffins. These remarks I have deemed necessary to the proper understanding of our subject; and we hope our audience will pardon our crude allusions to a merely scientific phase of a subject which, in its most attractive form, interests so few minds.
Indiana occupies a position nearly central in the great geological basin of the Mississippi Valley. Six hundred miles east brings us to the Alleghany mountains; the same distance south lands us on the Cumberland spurs of the Appalachian chain; a like distance west, and the highlands of the Ozarks rise around us; and six hundred miles to the north of us lies the Granite barrier that walls in the great lakes. The Geology of the great


6
central valley of North America cannot be understood until we have carefully studied the Geology of Indiana.
If we trace a line from the foot of the Alleghany mountains westwardly to the Mississippi river, we shall find the strata dipping west, about twenty degrees south, until we arrive at the Muskingum, where we have what Geologists call a synclinal axis -- a reversing of the dip. From thence to the summit between the Little and Great Miamies the dip is eastward. This point forms an anticlinal axis, and exposes on the surface the upper member of the Transition group -- the Selurian formation -- the "Blue Limestone" of Cincinnati and vicinity. This rock abounds in the petrified remains of marine shells. So abundant are these, that in many places the whole formation seems to be a vast graveyard of beings that were, and are not. This formation extends westwardly to a line running north from the mouth of Indian Kentucky, a few miles above the city of Madison, on the Ohio river. The counties of Dearborn, Franklin, Union, Wayne, Fayette, Ohio, Switzerland, and part of Jefferson and Ripley, lie in this formation. The rocks of this formation furnish a very durable building material when they can be obtained of sufficient thickness and solidity; but most of them are too thin for architectural purposes, and many of them shelly. Occasionally there occur specimens of this rock which, from its compact and finely crystaline texture, admits of a high polish; while the different shades of color produced by the numerous fossil remains imbedded in it gives it a beautifully variegated appearance. Marble of this class is found in Jefferson, Franklin, and Fayette counties, that will some day be a source of considerable profit. Mineral treasures, in any valuable amount, are not to be expected in this formation.


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Passing westwardly, we preceive the summits of the hills crowned with a gray or ash colored Limestone, in heavy, compact strata. This is the "cliff rock" of the Ohio Geologists -- the "lower calcareous" of Dr. Owen. You will observe that it occupies the position assigned to the old Red Sandstone of the European Geologist, and perhaps it may be regarded as its equivalent, since that member of the secondary formation has not been clearly demonstrated in the Mississippi Valley. Fossil remains are exceedingly rare in this rock. The millions of shell fish that swarmed in the Selurian seas have strangely disappeared, and in their place we find, after long search, an occasional fossil of the Orthoceras and Bellerophon families. The mode in which this rock overlaps the underlying Selurian strata is beautifully exemplified at the "Deep Diggings," near Madison.
It is in this "lower calcareous" rock that the notable Mammoth Cave of Kentucky is situated, and it manifests much of the same cavernous character in southern Indiana; but as we proceed north, the stratum becomes thinner and the mass more compact; but everywhere it gives the same bold, precipitous, bluffy character to the streams that cut through it. This formation stretches in a broad band across the central portion of the State, showing itself wherever the streams cut through the overlying drift. It forms the rocky channel of the Wabash from Delphi to Huntington; beyond which stream, however, it seldom appears above the incumbent drift. This group furnishes an excellent building material, easily wrought and of great durability. The geological position and fossil characteristics of this formation mark its analogy to, if not its identity with, the lead bearing rocks of Iowa and Wisconsin, and though that metal has not


8
yet been discovered in Indiana, its existence is not an improbability.
This series is bounded on the west by an Argilicious Sandstone, the equivalent of the Chemung group of the New York Geologists. The Crinoid family is the characteristic fossil of this formation; appearing, however, most generally in interlying strata of Limestone, formed almost entirely of the remains of this curious zophyte. As a building stone, this rock is not generally reliable. On exposure to air and frost it decays rapidly, and soon crumbles down to its original elementary form of sand and clay. This is especially true of those rocks of this class which have a bluish color. Those of a reddish or orange tint, though softer at first, are more durable.* The apparent solidity of this rock when first quarried, and the ease with which it may be cut, have led to many palpable blunders in this State, one of which may be seen in the foundation of this building, (the State House.) While the bricks of which this edifice is built, and even the stucco that covers its walls, show no mark of decay, the Argilicious Sandstone is rapidly falling to pieces; and twenty-five years more will find this building without a foundation to stand upon. This formation, both at its southern and northern extemities, terminates in heavy masses of Aluminous Slate which may some day be valuable in the manufacture of Alum. The bituminous char-
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* The tendency in this rock to disintegrate or crumble down is owing to the fact that its coloring matter is a sesquoxyd of Iron -- that is, one equivalent of Iron is combined with one and a half equivalents of oxygen -- on exposure, it absorbs another half equivalent of oxygen and becomes a peroxide. This expands the volume and fractures the stone as far as the action has taken place. The fractured portions crumble off, exposing a new surface to be acted on in the same manner, until the whole rock is broken down.


9
acter of this Slate has misled some into the erroneous conclusion that Coal may be found associated with it. But all search for Coal in these vicinities will be fruitless -- it lies too low in the geological scale -- is too old a formation -- really underlying the true Mountain Limestone, while the Coal measures are found invariably above it. This Mountain Limestone to which we have now alluded, lies westward of the Sandstone last described, and above it, geologically. This formation rests with a heavy base on the Ohio river, below New Albany, and gradually thins out as it proceeds north, until, on arriving at the Wabash, near Williamsport, in Warren county, it is reduced to a single stratum of a few feet in thickness. As a durable building material, the rocks of this series are not excelled by any in the State. The Putnamville stone, that has been used to some extent in this city, is a fair sample of this formation.
The western margin of the Mountain Limestone brings us to the "Coal Measures" -- the eastern verge of the great Illinois coal field. The boundaries of this immense coal deposit has not, as yet, been clearly defined. Its present ascertained length is about six hundred miles, and its greatest width two hundred, and its estimated area about eighty thousand square miles; embracing portions of Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and perhaps Minesota. Of this great field, about eight thousand square miles are in Indiana. Of the number and thickness of the coal seams in our State, but little is known beyond a few points on the Ohio and Wabash rivers, where coal has been mined. And yet we have no hesitancy in pronouncing this Coal, next to her fertile soil, the great element of wealth to Indiana. We have no extensive mountain ranges, nor irreclaimable morasses to serve as reservoirs of timber to supply fuel for future generations. When

B


10
we shall have checkered the State with a net-work of canals, railroads, plankroads, and other facilities of inter-communication -- when a market for the products of the soil shall be brought to every man's door, then it will be a question of interest to every farmer whether one fourth of the soil shall lie uncultivated to supply the indispensable article of fuel, or whether those acres shall be subjected to the plow, and fuel supplied from our inexhaustable beds of Coal. The domestic use of Coal is, however, but a very minute element in the calculation, when we would estimate the value and importance of our vast Coal field. Since the introduction of steam as a motive power in propeling machinery, Coal has become almost indispensable to the success of any manufacturing enterprise. For steam purposes, no better Coal exists anywhere than is found in Indiana. The analysis of Professor Johnson gives us
 
       Fixed Carbon,    -    -    -    -     59.40
       Bitumen,    -    -    -    -    -     34.90
       Earthy Matter,    -    -    -    -     5.70 = 100.00
This specimen was from Cannelton, and was, we presume, a fair sample of Coal in that vicinity. Specimens which I have examined from Fountain and Parke counties contain rather more bitumen and proportionally less fixed carbon. The Indiana Coal kindles more readily and burns with a brighter flame than the Pittsburgh Coal, owing to the large per cent. of bitumen it contains; and consequently, for the production of gas, it has a decided superiority; but on the other hand it yields less Coke, and is, consequently, inferior to the Pittsburgh Coal when used for smelting metals, &c.
Associated with the Coal are deposites of Iron Ore of two or three varieties. The brown hydrated oxyde of Iron [Hematite]


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has been discovered in a few localities, yielding from thirty to fifty per cent. Argilaceous Iron [Clay Ironstone] abounds every where in the Coal districts of Indiana, varying in value from fifteen to thirty-five per cent. Furnaces for smelting these ores, on a small scale, are in operation in several places. I may here remark that we have, in various localities, large and valuable beds of what is commonly denominated "Bog Ore." This being a recent accumulation, is not confined to any particular geological formation. It abounds in the northern portions of the State, and is successfully worked at Mishawaka, Rochester, and Logansport. I have but little doubt that if all the facts in relation to Iron Ore in Indiana were carefully ascertained by a competent mineralogist, and published in a reliable form by the authority of the State, that we would, in a few years, manufacture all the Iron consumed in the State, and probably furnish it as an article of commerce.
From the similarity of geological position existing between the Kanawha and Muskingum vallies and the valley of the Wabash in Fountain, Parke, and Vermillion counties, we should have inferred a priori the existence of salt in the latter locality. But we are not left to such inference. Borings to the depth of about six hundred feet have been made, near the mouth of Coal Creek, with as favorable results as any boring of no greater depth at Kanawha, and this, too, in the immediate vicinity of an inexhaustable supply of Coal; thus demonstrating our ability to manufacture this indispensable article of domestic economy within the limits of our own State.
One important feature in the Geology of Indiana remains yet to be noticed. The entire State, with the exception of a small portion of the southern border, is covered to a depth of from ten


12
to one hundred feet with a drift or diluvial formation consisting of clay, sand, gravel, water-worn pebbles, and boulders of primitive rock of almost every variety, piled together in the utmost confusion. It is from the decomposition of this drift with its inconceivable variety of elements that our soil is derived, and to this cause we attribute its exuberant fertility. It is an axiom in Agricultural Chemistry that the greater the variety of mineral ingredients entering into the composition of any soil the greater its fertility, other things being equal. This being true, a soil like ours, derived from the decomposition of a promiscuous drift, if supplied with sufficient vegetable mould to furnish food for growing vegetation, cannot be otherwise than productive. Our soil is not derived from, and consequently bears no relation to, the underlying strata. Hence we have the strange phenomenon of extensive and valuable Coal seams covered by a fertile soil -- a soil every way adapted to agricultural purposes.
It is in this drift formation that those specimens of gold have been found in various portions of the State, which, at one time, created quite a sensation. It has evidently been transported here at the drift period, from its remote home somewhere in the north, and perhaps imbedded, at the time of its transportation, in its original matrix, the gold-bearing quartz. Time, and the wear and tear of the elements have decomposed the quartz, and set free the stray specimens that have been found. They are only valuable as serving to indicate another California where this drift came from. These specimens are but an index referring to a treasure elsewhere. Associated with this same formation are frequently found insulated pieces of native copper, most probably from the Lake Superior region.
It has been said, and probably truly said, that the agricultural


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interest is, and must forever reamin the great leading interest of Indiana. But while this is true, it is equally true that the agriculturalists, while reaping the rich harvest from the teeming soil, must necessarily consume an immense amount of manufactured articles. Now if the supply for this consumption can be as cheaply produced at home as elsewhere it would be an immense saving. We feed the manufacturers of the east, or perhaps of Europe, while they fabricate the articles of every day consumption for us. But does the farmer in Indiana get the price for his flour, beef, and pork at which the manufacturer consumes it? Or do we wear the cotton and woolen fabrics at the price that the power-looms of the east produce them? Nay, verily! We get fifty per cent. less for our produce than the price at which it is consumed, and pay fifty per cent. more than the manufacturers' price for the fabrics consumed. But for her exuberantly fertile soil, and the industry and indomitable energy of her population, Indiana must have been bankrupt under this pressure long since. This enormous tax, amounting to millions every year, is the result of the fact that the producer and consumer are a thousand miles apart! No man who has the least acquaintance with the position and resources of the Indiana Coal field, will doubt for a moment that we have all the facilities for manufacturing claimed by the most favored spot on the globe. With easy access to the cotton fields of the south, with a wool growing country all around us, with Coal of a superior quality and in inexhaustable quantities, and with the produce to feed the manufacturers at the door, why should we go a thousand miles to purchase our shirtings, our prints, our cloths, our satinetts, and the thousand nameless articles we daily consume? You say, because we have no factories -- no manufacturing capital. And why have we not? If the


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manufacturers of the east were assured that they could increase their profits five or ten per cent., we would soon have any desirable amount of manufacturing capital in Indiana. The eastern manufacturers are ignorant of our resources and great manufacturing facilities. And how could they be otherwise? We have given them no information on these subjects -- we have not even informed ourselves.
Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives, this subject commands itself to your serious consideration as one of great pecuniary importance. It is certainly the dictate of wisdom and sound policy that the two great arms of productive industry -- the agricultural and manufacturing interest -- should be placed in the closest practical proximity; for it must be obvious to the most superficial observer that the difference between the price of grain, pork, beef, &c., here and in Boston, as well as the difference in the price of fabrics between Lowell and Indianapolis, must be a dead loss to the farmer or to the manufacturer, or to both. But it is a defect that can never be remedied until these two great interests are brought nearer together. No where can these be placed in absolute juxtaposition with more facility than in Indiana. The improvements in steam machinery have made it the only reliable motive power for manufacturing purposes, and this in its turn demands a cheap and convenient fuel. But Coal regions, as a general rule, are mountainous, sterile, and unfitted for agricultural purposes. To this rule the great Illinois Coal field, throughout, is a remarkable exception. It presents the geological anomaly of Coal beds as extensive as any in the world covered by a soil as fertile as the Delta of the Nile. The smoke of our Iron furnaces may overshadow the very fields that feed the artificer, and the plow-boy may drive his team, turning the


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rich furrow the the music of the factory. This is no fancy sketch. We shall look upon the reality as soon as the Legislature shall take the necessary steps to place before the world a plain, unvarnished statement of our resources, for water does not more certainly seek a level than capital seeks the point of most profitable investment. The policy of looking abroad for every thing beyond the mere growth of the soil will render us dependent, and consequently tributary to foreign capital, notwithstanding we have all the elements of independence at our door. Our citizens sell their bonds, at a ruinous discount, in a foreign market; they buy iron rails made of sixteen per centum ores in the mountains of Wales, ferry them over the broad Atlantic, transport them a thousand miles to the interior, and lay them on a track cut through forty per cent. ores! This wretched -- this insane policy must be abandoned; the manufacturer must be invited to our western Coal fields, that we may feed him with the surplus products of our fertile soil, and in turn consume his fabrics without this enormous transportation tax.
It will cost something to make a thorough Geological survey of the State, but this amount would be more than covered by the increase in taxable capital in the State, and returned an hundred fold to the citizens by enabling them to sell their products for home consumption, and buy their goods unburthened by the present heavy transportation tax. I speak what I know, when I say that our neglect of this matter is operating seriously to our disadvantage abroad. A few months ago I was among the manufacturers of the eastern States. I spoke of our great manufacturing resources. The reply was -- "they cannot be of much value,


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for your State refused, last winter, to make a survey, that we might be officially informed on these subjects." We hope, gentlemen, you will place this matter right before the public, and Indiana right before the world. We must move in this matter if we do not intend to be entirely behind the age. Ohio has already completed a survey of her territory; Kentucky, Illinois, and Michigan have each an efficient corps in the field, and shall not Indiana give to the world a true and full statement of her resources?
The survey should not only embrace the Geology and Mineralogy of the State, but the Topography of each county should be carefully examined, and accurately marked on the map. This should embrace the general face of the country, quality and quantity of the timber, character of soil as ascertained by accurate analysis, &c. We have in this State a great variety of soils, all of which, however, may be arranged under about eight general classes, each of which requires a different mode of cultivation, and is adapted to a different class of productions, and each requires a different mode of treatment to call out, to its fullest extent, its productive power, and to maintain its fertility. To develope these matters fully, requires a full report, and one that shall be intelligible to the practical farmer. You may create as many State Agricultural Boards as you please, and foster them at the public expense as you may, you never can reach the evils you aim to remedy, short of giving to the farmer an accurate knowledge of the soil he cultivates. Correct farming must be based on Agricultural Chemistry.
Various joint stock companies are now prosecuting an extended system of internal improvements in Indiana, but


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without a knowledge of the topography of the State, the general configuration of the surface of the country, they must necessarily labor under great disadvantage, and often occur needless expense. One error from this cause has cost the State more money than would be necessary to make a topographical map of every section of land in the State. When it became necessary to connect this capital by a railroad with the Ohio river, a point was selected without any reference to the topographical facilities of the route. Now it so hapened that the selection fell upon the only absolutely inaccessible point on the Ohio river, within the boundaries of the State. The line of "watershed," or summit, between the waters that run directly into the Ohio and those that find their way to it through the Wabash, enters the State near the line between Wayne and Randolph counties; tending westwardly, it enters Henry county; thence, sweeping with a curve to the south, it passes through Rush, Decatur, Ripley, and Jefferson counties, and, on arriving opposite to the city of Madison, that line occupies the very brow of the hill overlooking the Ohio river. Now this line is of pretty uniform elevation throughout, and may be easily surmounted if a distance of twenty or thirty miles between it and the river be allowed for that purpose. But this, the topography of Madison absolutely forbids. The whole elevation must be overcome, and the summit reached by an inclined plane of less than three miles in length. To accomplish this, Indiana has expended a "mint" of money, and yet a convenient and safe road is not, and never can be, made on that route.
As a result of the survey, a cabinet should be fitted up by the Geologist for the use of the State, exhibiting the quality of the soil, character of rock (both lithologically and paleontologically,)


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and specimens of the minerals in each county, so that an epitome of the whole State might be seen at one glance.
Important as we deem this subject, we do not ask that it shall take precedence of more interesting subjects of legislation; but we do hope that when you have settled the momentous questions now pending -- when you have given every aspirant a fair chance for a seat in Congress, you will devote to the development of the natural resources of our own State that attention which the importance of the subject demands. Indiana, if she avails herself of the means of wealth that a bountiful Providence has hid in the bosom of her own soil, may be rich; but if she hides these "in a napkin," and depends on buying from abroad, she must remain poor.

[END]

Geology Library, Indiana University Bloomington