Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/125

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SKETCH OF HENRY R. SCHOOLCRAFT.

cies in the limestone rocks of the falls, and published anonymously in the paper some notices of its mineralogy. At the month of the Cumberland River he exchanged the ark for a keelboat or barge, with which, propelled by poles pushing on the bottom, he made from three to ten miles a day against the swift current of the Mississippi to Herculaneum, Mo. On this voyage he traveled over a large part of the west bank on foot, and gleaned several facts in its mineralogy and geology which made it an initial point in his future observations. He spent three months in examining the lead mines, personally visiting every mine or digging of consequence in the Missouri country and tracing its geological relations into Arkansas. Hearing of syenite suitable for millstones on the St. Francis, he visited that stream and discovered the primitive tract; and he pushed his examinations west beyond the line of settlement into the Ozark Mountains. He now determined to call the attention of the Government to the importance of its taking care of its domain in the mines, and with this purpose packed his collections and took passage in the new steamer St. Louis for New Orleans. Hence, having inquired into the formation of the delta of the Mississippi, he sailed by brig for New York. He opened his collections and invited examination of them, published a book on the mines and physical geography of the West and a letter on its resources, and went to Washington to present his views on the care of the mines to the officers of the Government. While he was looking for a secretary within whose purview the matter fell, Mr. Calhoun invited him to accompany General Cass, Governor of Michigan, as naturalist and mineralogist on an expedition to explore the sources of the Mississippi and to inquire into the supposed value of the Lake Superior copper mines. He accepted the position, though the compensation was small, because, he says, "it seemed to be the bottom step of a ladder which I ought to climb."

Mr. Schoolcraft left New York in March, 1820, reached Niagara Falls on the 1st of May, and Detroit by steamer a week later. While waiting for the completion of arrangements for embarkation, he attended to the correspondence which had been provoked by the publication of his work on the mines and the resultant awakening of interest in the varied resources of the Mississippi Valley and the subject of geographical and geological explorations. He determined to reply to all letters that appeared to be honest inquiries for geographical facts, "which I only, and not books, could communicate." The route of the expedition "lay up the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers and around the southern shores of Lakes Huron and Superior to Fond du Lac, thence up the St. Louis River in its rugged passage through the Cabotian Mountains to the Savannah summit which divides the Great Lakes