Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/129

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

cinnati, and Professor John L. Taylor, of Andover. After studying theology in Union and Yale Seminaries, and holding a short pastorate over the First Church in New Britain, Connecticut, he was obliged to travel for his health.

After a seven and a half months' voyage in a sailing-vessel he reached the Sandwich Islands via Cape Horn in May, 1846, where he remained a little more than a year. While there, he visited and mapped the volcanic crater of Kilauea, which he afterward described fully in the "American Journal of Science."

While staying at Hilo, in the family of Mr. Coan, the missionary, the unusually large rainfall on that side of Hawaii (over ten feet annually) led Mr. Lyman to construct an ingenious self-registering raingauge, which, by means of clock-work, drew a line on a ruled diagram, showing the time of day and all the circumstances of the rainfall.[1]

During his stay at Honolulu, Mr. Lyman was called upon to teach the Royal School for a few months, having among his pupils four young chiefs, who later successively occupied the Hawaiian throne, and also the chiefess who was afterward Queen Emma.

Just before leaving the islands for California, Mr. Lyman bought an outfit of surveying instruments from his friend Chief-Justice Lee. With these instruments he arrived, in July, 1847, at San Francisco, just then newly laid out among scrub-oaks and sand-hills, and adopting that name instead of its previous one of Yerba Buena. He found it a small settlement, and the only one of its streets on which there were enough buildings of any sort to show which way it ran was Montgomery Street, which then was at the water-front, and in one place was covered with water at high tide, but now is many blocks inland.

Having been commissioned as surveyor by Colonel Mason, the military governor, Mr. Lyman soon found himself fully occupied in the survey of ranches and towns in various parts of California, especially in the country between San Francisco and San José. Among these was a resurvey of the city and adjacent lands of San José (which had been fraudulently laid out by his predecessor, so that many of the lots existed only on his chart), and also the original survey of the famous New Almaden mine, probably the richest quicksilver-mine in the world.

In May, 1847, while he was engaged in surveying the town of San José, there came reports, at first uncredited, that gold had been discovered at Sutter's Mill, on the American River, a hundred and fifty miles or so up in the mountains. At length, a man who had come from the diggings showed some gold specimens in a store at San Jose, and, the report being at last believed, men began soon to flock to the

  1. One peculiarity of this rain-gauge was the device by which, in extra heavy rainfalls, which would more than have filled the reservoir, a valve, by which it was emptied, automatically opened and closed, bringing the recording pencil back to zero.