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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/498

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

grizzly was so recent a victim that his tracks were still visible in the white, earthy slopes, leading clown to the spot where he had met his death. In no case were any marks of violence seen, and there can be no question that death was occasioned by the gas. The wind was blowing directly up the ravine during our visit, and we failed to get any test for carbonic acid, though we exhausted all our matches in the effort, plunging the flames into hollows of the rill bed in various parts of its course; they invariably burned brightly, and showed not the slightest tendency to extinguish. The dilution of the gas in such a breeze would be inevitable, however; that the gas was present was attested by the peculiar oppression on the lungs that was felt during the entire period that we were in the gulch, and which only wore off gradually on our return to camp. I suffered from a slight headache in consequence for several hours.

There was no difference in the appearance of the portion of the gulch where the eight bears had met their end and the region above and below. A hundred yards or more up stream the solfataric deposits become less abundant, and the timber grows close to the brook; a short distance beyond this the gulch ends. No bodies were found above, and only bears were found in the locality described. It will be observed that Weed's experience differs in this respect from ours, and the appearance of the place was somewhat different: he found elk and small animals in addition to the bears, and describes the deathtrap as occupying the mouth of the basin at the head of the gulch, above the point where the last springs of acid water cease. The rill observed by us has its source far above the animals; indeed, it trickles directly through the worm-eaten carcass of the cinnamon bear—a thought by no means comforting when we realized that the water supply for our camp was drawn from the creek only a short distance down the valley.

It is not impossible that there may be two or three of these gullies having similar properties. That we should have found only bears may perhaps be accounted for on the ground that the first victim for this season was a bear, and his carcass frightened away all animals except those of his own family. For an illustration of a process of accumulation of the bones of large vertebrates, with all the conditions present necessary for fossilization, no finer example can be found in the world than Death Gulch; year after year the snow slides and spring floods wash down this fresh supply of entrapped carcasses to be buried in the waste cones and alluvial bottoms of Cache Creek and Lamar River. Probably the stream-formed conglomerate that we noted as we ascended the creek is locally filled with these remains.

The gas is probably generated by the action of the acid water