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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/848

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828
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

On passing along the borders of the lake, however, another phenomenon was observed that seemed to contradict this hypothesis, or to indicate that the change of level had been the other way. This was the existence of the stumps of large trees, evidently in the position where they had grown, but at this time standing in the water. And again, a living witness was found to corroborate the testimony of the stumps, in the person of an old resident who tells of the willows growing far out on what is now a shallow in the lake, and forming a haunt that the deer used to frequent in the years when this country was first settled.

That summer (1878), a new trestle was built across the head of the lake for the Chicago and West Michigan Railroad. In building it piles were driven and sawed off beneath the surface of the water for the bottom sill of each bent to rest upon, but before the next spring these piles began to lift their heads out of the water, and, before the summer of 1879 had passed, the sills that rested on them were lifted from ten to fourteen inches above the water-level. During the summer of 1879 an iron swing-bridge was built across the mouth of White River, at the head of the lake, and, as a foundation for the turn-table, a bed of piling was driven in the center of the channel, which was sawed off at a considerable depth below the surface of the water. On this piling a platform of lumber was built, so that its surface, when completed, was at a depth of some six inches below the surface of the water, and on that a tower of stone-work was built for the turn-table to rest on. As the lake was considered to be at a low level at this time, it was supposed that this platform would be perpetually under water; but the bridge was not yet completed when it began to rise above the surface, and, by the next spring, it was some eight inches above the water-level. At this point, however, the water again began to rise, and at present this platform is again under water.

Another matter must now claim our attention, that speaks of a time somewhat more remote; but first, perhaps, it will be as well to glance briefly at the immediate border of Lake Michigan. Here, along the border of the low-lying, sandy country, there is generally a strip, varying from a few rods to half a mile or more in width, on which the sand has been piled up by the wind into dunes. Here the surface of the ground is fantastically irregular. Sharp crests, gorges, valleys, and crater-like depressions abound everywhere, and the whole is generally covered with forest and filled in with a rank undergrowth. In places, however, especially at the foot of the river-lakes, the sand is yet without vegetation, except here and there, on some sheltered slope, a few bunches of beach-grass or a stunted shrub; white and shining, its surface rippled by the wind, and traced at times with the strangely varied tracks of insects, birds, small creatures from the neighboring woods, turtles from the water, and, most numerous of all,