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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/641

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623
MEXICO AND ITS ANTIQUITIES.

enters a magnificent forest, which is succeeded by a growth of thick grass, after which the crest-line of the ridge is crossed, and the ranch of Tlamacas, the starting-point for the summit, is reached. The lower part of the peak of the volcano has a slope of about 20°, and the angle increases in ascending till it reaches about 45° just below the summit. The crater is not visible until the traveler arrives at the. edge. It is roughly estimated to be about five hundred yards in diameter and one hundred and fifty yards deep, and contains several fumaroles, with a small pond at its bottom. The temperature of the air on the summit at about ten o'clock in the morning was 32°. The view from the peak commands an area of about one hundred thousand square miles, and reaches to the Gulf of Mexico, one hundred and fifty miles distant. The descent may be made, if the snow is soft enough, by coasting on a sled. The volcano of Jorullo, in Michoacan, is famous for having been the result of a sudden eruption from a previously peaceful plain, on the night of the 28th—29th of September, 1759, the phenomena of which are fully related in a graphic description in Humboldt's "Cosmos." It is reached by a fifty-five-mile horseback-ride from Patzcuaro-station on the railroad from Mexico to Manzanillo. Horses may be ridden to within half a mile of the crater. The volcano is pear-shaped, with the outlet of the crater on the north side. The cone is covered with loose black ashes, in which a few bushes grow, and slopes at about 45 on the north and west sides. The crater is about a mile in circumference. The traveler may descend in it to the bottom, about five hundred feet below the summit. The walls slant rapidly, and are covered with an enormous mass of talus. Grass, a few ferns, and some native trees grow on its borders, and deer are abundant on the mountain. Shocks of earthquakes are often felt in the environs of Jorullo, one of which, in March, 1883, left cracks in the ground at a point ten miles off. Although no eruption has taken place for more than a hundred years, the volcano is still in a semi-active state, as is shown by the heat of the crater-walls, the emission of aqueous gas and vapor, and the frequency of earthquakes. A very extensive view is commanded from the summit.

Great interest is given to Mexico by its ancient ruins, relics of unknown people, whose character, origin, and history are destined long to be fruitful themes of study. They consist of teocallis, or pyramids, in different parts of the country, and the remains of elaborate buildings and of cities, chiefly situated in the States of Yucatan, Chiapas, and Oaxaca. The most prominently known ruins of cities are those of Uxmal, in Northern Yucatan, which are considered to be the oldest; those of Palenque, in Chiapas, next in age; and those of Mitla, in Oaxaca, third in age. The buildings were usually constructed of hewed stone, and have excited general admiration on account of the skill in architecture and the elaborate workmanship displayed in them. Near some of them are the remains of finely constructed artificial