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Exerpt From

Mineral Wealth of Missouri

A Lecture entitled

“Description of South-Western Missouri and South-Eastern Kansas” Including Soils, Climate, Water, Drainage, Building Material, Fruits, and other Products,
Grasses, and Grazing, Railroad Lands,
Hints to Settlers, &c., &c.

By Prof. C.D. Wilbur, Inspector of Mining Lands in the States and Territories west of the

Mississippi River, late Sup’t. Illinois Scientific Survey.

Delivered in the Hall of Representatives, Jefferson City, Missouri

February 18 and 19, 1870, pp. 55-57.

(Please note:  This book is available for reading and downloading to your computer on the Google Book Search - Full View Books web site.)

“Having made several examinations of the South-Eastern counties of Kansas and the South-Western counties of Missouri within the last year, having in view the topography of the country as well as its mineral treasure, I propose to write out, for the benefit of those seeking homes and investments, such facts as came under my notice.

“The country under consideration lies south of the Kansas Pacific Railway, and includes that portion of the State of Kansas lying east of a line drawn south from Junction City to the Indian Territory, with the Counties of Jackson, Cass, Bates, Barton, Jasper, Newton, Lawrence, Dade, Cedar, Vernon, St. Clair, Henry, Johnson and Lafayette, in the State of Missouri.  This survey also takes in the Cherokee Neutral Lands, the Osage Ceded Lands, and a portion of the Osage Lands proper.  The district surveyed extends 175 miles north and south, by 250 miles east and west, and includes that portion of Kansas and Missouri towards which emigration is so rapidly tending.

“This region is drained principally by the Osage, Neosho and Arkansas rivers, and their tributaries.  The general direction of these streams will, therefore, give the slope or inclination of land, which can be specially determined for every section by references to any good geographical map of the two States.  The best map now extant (circa 1870) is Keeler’s-Colton’s or Blanchard’s, however, will answer most purposes.

“The most common enquiries relate to the basis of the country itself.  What are its foundations? or rather the rock formations underlying its surface?

“It is an established principle that soils take their character from the subjacent rocks, and with this in mind, the traveler may learn much of the rocky structure of any region, by noticing carefully the loose earth or soil at the surface.  The geological formation to which this portion of the country is referred, is called Carboniferous, in which are found the Coal measures.  A large portion of Eastern Kansas is upper carboniferous - sometimes called Permian.  This extends beyond Fort Riley, near which the Cretaceous formation appears, and extends beyond Salinas, where the tertiary series appears above it, and which extends beyond Phil. Sheridan and Fort Wallace, where the Cretaceous group again occurs and extend to the foot hills of the Rocky Mountains.  The succession of these formations is like the courses of shingles in a roof rising westward.  The overlaps are irregular, but they do not dip, as has been often stated in public reports.  As the kernel is of more importance than the husk, so it is of more consequence to describe the valuable materials which these rock formations contain.

“The common building material is limestone, of which there are several varieties, viz:  Yellow, white and brown - besides a coarse massive limestone, suitable for heavy work, such as piers and abutments for bridges.  The Railroad bridge at Kansas City affords an example of this class of stone.  A much coarser variety is found in large quantities, disposed in regular ledges, along the Neosho and Verdigries rivers.  Small patches of it are also seen in the ‘border tier’ counties, where it is appears like the loose or lost rocks of the drift formation, while in reality it is the last remnant of a series increasing in quantity westward.

“The Fort Scott Marble is an interesting variety of limestone belonging to the coal measures.  It forms a ledge or stratum from six inches to thirty inches in thickness.  It is very compact and hard, and is often affected by fractures and cleavage lines.  It can be quarried in masses and sawed into slabs for table tops and other cabinet uses.  It is beautifully variegated with golden threads of every imaginable curve, which are the rims or edges of shells of various genera and species, inhabiting the waters in ages past, of the great Carboniferous sea.  Another class of building material, called magnesian limestone, or Junction City Marble, is quarried and shipped extensively from Junction City, Kansas - near Fort Riley.  It is very extensive, being from four to seven feet thickness, and forming a cap-rock of many thousands of square miles of Middle and Eastern Kansas.  It not only quarries, but cuts easily, and is worked to any dimension required, by saws and planes.  It is of light drab color and makes a beautiful front.  The State Capitol, at Topeka, is built of it, and several new buildings and residences at Kansa City and Leavenworth are finished with this material.  This limestone should not be confounded with the lower magnesian limestone so prevalent in the middle counties of Missouri - seen at various points on the Missouri river - the State Capitol being built of it: these belong to the lower Silurian division of rock, while the former are of the Upper Carboniferous or Permian series.

“The sandstone are everywhere prevalent, but are abundant near the Missouri border.  They alternate with limestone, in such a manner that the farmer may choose his material for house, barn, and fence.  These sandstones are of various dimensions, and no part of the country is without them.  It is worthy of notice, too, that both these classes of stone are near the surface, but not so near that they materially interfere with farming, nor so deep as to make extra cost in quarrying.  The edges of these strata are seen in all directions wherever ravines, or creeks or ridges or mounds mark the general surface.  The role pertaining to highlands or uplands is, that the cliff or edge separating them from the bottom lands is the outcrop of a persistent ledge, and on a strip not 60 feet wide, in nearly every township, are quarries that can never be exhausted, of the cheapest and best building material.

“There is scarcely a section of land in this vast domain that is not supplied in this manner with one or both of the above described classes of stone.”

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