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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/496

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478
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

was so considerable that it seems probable that the floods of early spring, when the snows are melting under the hot sun of this region, must be powerful enough to wash everything down to the cone of débris at the mouth of the gulch." Mr. Arnold Hague, on the occasion of his visit, was more successful in obtaining evidence of the presence of carbonic-dioxide gas. He writes: "The day I went up the ravine I was able in two places to extinguish a long brown paper taper. The day I was there it was very calm, and where I made the test the water was trickling down a narrow gorge shut in by shelving rocks above."

It was at noon on the 22d of July in the summer of 1897 that we made camp near the month of Cache Creek, about three miles southeast of the military post and mail station of Soda Butte. In company with Dr. Francis P. King I at once started up the creek, keeping the left bank, that we might not miss the gulch, which joins the valley of Cache Creek from the southern side. We had a toilsome climb through timber and over steep embankments, cut by the creek in a loose conglomerate, and after going about a mile and a half we noticed that some of these banks were stained with whitish and yellow deposits of alum and sulphur, indicating that we were nearing the old hot-spring district. Soon a caved-in cone of travertine was seen, with crystalline calcite and sulphur in the cavities, and the bed of the creek was more or less completely whitened by these deposits, while here and there could be seen along the banks oozing "paint-pots" of calcareous mud, in one case inky black, with deposits of varicolored salts about its rim, and a steady ebullition of gas bubbles rising from the bottom. In other cases these pools were crystal clear, and always cold. The vegetation, which below had been dense close to the creek's bank, here became more scanty, especially on the southern side, where the bare rock was exposed and seen to be a volcanic breccia, much decomposed and stained with solfataric deposits. A mound of coarse débris seen just above on this side indicated the presence of a lateral ravine, which from its situation and character we decided was probably the gulch sought for. A strong odor of sulphureted hydrogen had been perceptible for some time, and when we entered the gully the fumes became oppressive, causing a heavy burning sensation in the throat and lungs. The ravine proved to be as described, a V-shaped trench cut in the volcanic rock, about fifty feet in depth, with very steep bare whitish slopes, narrowing to a stony rill bed that ascended steeply back into the mountain side.

Climbing through this trough, a frightfully weird and dismal place, utterly without life, and occupied by only a tiny streamlet and an appalling odor, we at length discovered some brown furry masses