posed of drift. The lamps were removed from the two towers, and one of them soon after fell over; the previous morning they had stood nearly four hundred feet from the bank. The detritus, by the heavy pounding of the surf, was cleaned out, revealing the fact that the bottom, for half a mile along the Hue of coast, and more than one hundred yards landward, had been uncovered, and consisted of a hard blue clay, in which were imbedded many trunks of trees, and that the whole surface was covered with tracks of animals of different sizes and shapes; while, proceeding in a diagonal direction from the still-overhanging bluff, to the sea, were the perfectly preserved tracks of five pairs of naked human feet, evidently those of a woman and four children of different ages; three were upon one side of the woman and one upon the other. The tracks, as I have been assured by the most intelligent men of the place. were as distinct and perfectly preserved in the clay bottom, as though made but the day before; they all had the same peculiarity noticed in those who live a free and unrestrained life—that the toes were not turned out, but that the step was straight forward. Around one stump, broken off several feet above the surface upon which these tracks appeared, were many confused tracks, and much hair, From reports made me, I judge it must have been some animal of the deer or bison family, scratching himself upon the sharp, broken fragments of the stump. I sent some of the hair to the Secretary of the Museum of Natural History of Boston for a microscopical examination. Although quite a number of months have elapsed, no report has been made to me as yet of the result of it, although one was speedily promised at the time I sent it.
The question that appeals to the scientist for solution is, "When were these human foot-prints made?" It is one more easy to be asked than answered; yet it is plain to any observer that they could only have been made prior to the Drift epoch, which piled, by glacial action, over forty feet of stones and dirt above them. This deposit was made—or at least begun—suddenly. We see too many tracks to allow us to believe that this bottom could have been at the ancient sea, for then the tidal action and storms must have obliterated the impressions; for they were too numerous and of too diverse a character to permit the idea that they did not require a considerable period of time for their formation; the children were walking along by the side of their adult companion, without fear or hurry; close by where they passed, an animal "with feet as large as a big ox's, and the same shape," before or after they passed, relieved himself of his winter's growth of hair; for the hair was all of four or five inches long, and was trodden into the clay, and adhered to the stump in large quantities. There were also marks of feet showing a most perfect facsimile to the bear of to-day—some form of plantigrade, surely; and they would not have taken the course they did had not the coast been clear. It was spring when this was covered by the drift, for this animal was not only getting rid of a heavy coat of hair, in immense quantities, but the woman and children were barefoot, conclusively proving that the weather, at the time these impressions were made, was moderately or quite warm, and that it was in the early spring; that a severe winter was the rule, by the length and great abundance of the hair rubbed off by this bison, moose, or elk, or whatever he might be; that the coast-line was lower than it now is, as proved by the growth of trees, which served the people living near the beach for fuel many weeks. But the great question of when all this took place, is one that I leave for others to answer. The fact that the whole of Barnstable County, commonly known as Cape Cod, shows, in all its parts, unmistakable proofs of long-continued glacial action, with large bowlders thickly planted in many localities; while, by boring for wells in nearly all parts of the town of Chatham, down to a depth of thirty feet or thereabout, evidences of the drift only are found, and then a stratum of blue clay to an unknown depth; and that this same clay is found all over the cape at varying distances from the surface would mark it as the original pre-glacial bottom, and the impressions I have mentioned those of the true aboriginal inhabitants, belonging to the Pliocene period.
|C. J. Ricker, M. D.|
|Newton, Mass., May 12, 1883.|
In the June number of "The Popular Science Monthly" is an article on "Quacks and Quackeries," which, in its allusion to
- One of the principal gentlemen from whom the above information was derived is Captain George Eldredge, author of "Eldredge's Charts," "Eldredge's Coast Pilot," etc. Another is Levi Atwood, Esq., editor of the "Chatham Monitor." Both these gentlemen live in Chatham, and from long personal acquaintance I can speak highly of them as men of truth and general trustworthiness. Both they, and many others, equally reliable, will confirm all the facts I have stated above.
- Captain Eldredge told me he should judge that, were it all collected, there would be two quarts of it. He showed me some that he had gathered and preserved; it was coarse, reddish-brown, and about four inches in length, or varying from three and one half to four and one half inches long. It may be well to state that after a few storms the whole of the uncovered portion was covered once more with sand, and all these wonderful phenomena were obliterated. Under the bluff are yet concealed sights, perhaps still more useful to archæology.