James H. (James Hadden) Smith.

History of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers online

. (page 17 of 125)
Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 17 of 125)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


that have formerly been called greywacke, varying
in texture from an argillaceous slate to a sand-
stone, succeed the Umestone of the Fishkill valley
about three-fourths of a mile from the village of
Fishkill, on the old post-road from New York to
Albany. The dip is generally east-south-east from
ten to fifteen degrees, but at Wappinger Creek it
is nearly vertical. Some quarries of the grit rock,
which is easily quarried into rhombic blocks and
fragments, have been opened along the road for
wall stone.

The grit and slate rocks of this group are seen
abundantly in places three miles south of Pough-
keepsie, on the post-road, and continue to be seen
at intervals, emerging in ridges and hillocks through
the quarternary formation, in Hyde Park, Rhine-
beck and Red Hook. They are frequently inter-
stratified with shales and sometimes with lime-
stone and other rocks.

The strata dip at various angles from eight to
ninety degrees,'' generally to the east-south-east,
but in some places to the north-east, and even to
the north. The latter are local variations, due
in most if not all cases, to derangements of the
strata along the transverse axes of disturbance.
An exposure of these rocks between Lower Red
Hook village and the landing, three-fourths of a
mile, and again one mile from the village, showed
well characterized drift scratches, the surface being
otherwise smoothed off as if ground down by attri-
tion. In these, as well as many other locaUties in
this vicinity, the dip was eastwardly at a high angle.
Singular contortions of these rocks may be seen on
the shore a few rods below the landing. , The rocks
are bent and folded and packed together in such a
way as cannot be easily described or represented.
The strata are nearly vertical, and bent into regular
and irregular curves and folds. The grit rocks, in
stratafrora six to twelve inches in thickness, are in-
terstratified with slaty grits and slate. A hundred
yards below the Lower Red Hook landing, the
grit rock is seen nearly vertical, immediately over-
laid by nearly horizontal slate. The strata are
very beautifully exposed to view between Red Hook
and Rhinebeck landings on the shore of the Hud-
son and the small rocky islands near it. Smoothed



and scratched surfaces may be seen where the over-
ling clay has recently been removed from the
rock. One locality was observed about two miles
south of Red Hook landing, where two distinct
sets of scratches were engraved on the rock, with
directions of south ten degrees west and south
twenty degrees west. The smoothed or scratched
grit or greywacke was seen between Rhinebeck
landing and village, west of the ridge of naked grit
rock that paves the road west of the creek ; also at
several places on the Rhinebeck and Pine Plains
turnpike; and two and three-fourths miles from
Lower Red Hook village, on the road to Long
Pond. A quarry of flagging and building stone
has been opened about half a mile east of the lat-
ter village in the slaty grits of this group. The
stone is easily quarried in slabs of five to fifty feet
square and three to eight inches thick.

A broken rocky ridge of grit and slaty grit, in-
terstratified with slate, extends from near Rhine-
beck, by Hyde Park, to near Poughkeepsie, and is
exposed in many places along the east side of the
old post-road. The dip of the rock is eastwardly,
generally east-south-east, at very variable angles
from forty to ninety degrees. At Lewisville, .oppo-
site Lewis' landing, the strata are vertical.

The smoothed and scratched greywacke and
grit was observed on the ridges of Hyde Park; and
about half a mile east of the post road opposite to
half a mile north of De Graffs tavern, the grooves
and scratches, which were perfectly similar in size,
depth and direction, were interrupted by shps or
slight faults of the rock of more recent origin.
Prof. Cassels observed them in several places in
that vicinity.

Flagging stones have been quarried from the
slaty grits in Hyde Park. The rocks are well ex-
posed between Hyde Park village and landing,
and along the shore from the landing for some
^distance north. The grit, composed of distinct
particles of slate in addition to the usual materials,
is interstratified with a fissile slate, almost like
roofing slate, on this shore a little above the land-
ing. The long narrow island and several smaller
ones between Hyde Park and Lewis' landing
offer fine exposures of the grits and slaty grits.
Below Barrytown are two long, narrow, rocky
islands called Magdalen, on which the strata are
well exposed to view, dipping as usual to the east,
south-east, or more nearly east at high angles.
About a mile below Rhinebeck landing, thick
layers of grit are interstratified with slate, and
contorted. A few rods above this locahty nodules



8o



HISTORY OF DUCHESS COUNTY.



of argillaceous iron ore were observed embedded
in the slate.

The fossils discovered by Mr. Dale in the Hud-
son River slates in Marlborough Mountain, on the
west bank of the Hudson, opposite of Poughkeep-
sie, were identified by Prof. Hall, State Geologist,
as the brachiopods, Orthis testudinaria, Leptarna
sericea, Orthis pectinella, Stophomena alternata
the gasteropod, Bellerophon bilobatus, and the
fucoid, Buthotrephis subnodosa. " These fossils,"
says Prof. Dwight, " are all common both to the
Trenton and the Hudson River groups, except the
Orthis pectinella, which has hitherto been unknown
in the Hudson River shale. They therefore defi-
nitely fix the age of these slates as belonging to
some member of the Trenton period and, under
all the circumstances, are generally accepted as
indicating the highest strata in that period, the
Hudson River group.".

The rocks of the Utica Slate group, which Prof.
Mather classifies as a member of the Champlain
division, consist of dark-colored argillaceous slates
of several varieties, which may generally be dis-
tinguished by their color, and form a large propor-
tion of the slate of the Hudson Valley. They
range from Vermont to New Jersey, and are well
exhibited to view on the banks of the Hudson at
Fishkill landing and at Poughkeepsie.

The slate of this group is highly carbonaceous
and contains thin seams and fragments of anthra-
cite. This has led to the delusive hope that coal
in greater quantity exists in its locality, and some
places where excavations for coal have been made
are very apt to deceive those who are not profes-
sional geologists and mineralogists. Small layers
and lumps of anthracite are actually seen, and the
fragments of rock present an appearance some-
what similar to the carbonaceous matter near the
outcropping edges of beds of anthracite. In some
localities vegetable remains are found. Near
Poughkeepsie a well was bored to a depth of two
hundred feet in search of coal ; and in its vicinity
ten or twelve excavations have been made and
$5,000 to $6,000 expended, in this object. A
large piece of anthracite is said to have been
found at the mouth of Wappinger Creek nearly
ninety years ago. On the Annan farm in Fishkill
an excavation was made in black slate glazed with
anthracite in expectation that coal would be found.
The locality is at the base of the Highlands, near
the junction of the granite and slate rocks, and
has, says Prof. Mather, in his report of 1843,
" been called the coal mine for a century." It is



he adds, more likely to deceive those not familiar
with coal regions than any he had seen, except
those at Hudson and Rider's mill in Chatham.
Even as late as 1878, and probably to this day,
the hope of finding coal in these slates was strongly
entertained. A specimen of coal dug that year on
the farm of Michael Herman, a short djstance
from Pleasant Valley, about sixteen feet below the
surface, was supposed to indicate a valuable
deposit of that combustible. Subsequent exami-
nation, during the same summer, led to the dis-
covery of a "three-feet vein of anthracite coal," at
a depth of twenty-four feet, and evoked from a
local journal the asseveration, "that there is coal
in Duchess county in quantities to pay for mining
is a settled fact."* Toward the close of the late
war the search for petroleum was prosecuted in
Fishkill with considerable, energy. The Hudson
River Petroleum Company, composed of "the
most prominent, wealthy and enterprising men of
that vicinity," was formed with a capital of $600,-
000, and pipes drove at Glenham to a depth of 150
feet when a section, having been driven through
several boulders, was crushed, and operations dis-
continued. Another well was started near the
base of the mountains.f

About three and one-fourth miles north-west of
Lower Red Hook on the road near the^Nathan
Beckwith farm, is a ridge of black sihceous slate,
in some of the loose masses of which copper
pyrites was rather abundantly disseminated. The
same kind of rock was seen in place on the next
swell of land to the west, and in several places
between Lower Red Hook and Clermont.

The rocks of the Trenton Limestone group are
limestones and shales alternating with each other.
Some of the strata abound in fossils which are
peculiar in character and distinguish the group
from others higher in the geological series. The
group thins out from west to east or is mostly
replaced by the associated slates. The limestone
is generally dark colored, compact or sub-crystalline,
sometimes slaty, at times it occurs in strata two
to four feet thick, separated by thin layers of black
slate. Some of the strata are replete with fossil
remains; others are nearly destitute of them.
Some of the thick strata are easily sawed and pol-
ished, and make a beautiful black marble, others
contain hornstone and chert in small nodules or
irregular masses, that render it useless for such



* The Pmghktetsii Weekly Eagle, May 4th, 1878, and July 2a,
1878.— rfe Rhinebeck Gazette, 1878.

t The Fishkill Standard, 1864. The Poughkeepsie Eagle, Dec. 23.
1864 ; June 16, 1865 ; and August S, 1855.



BLACK RIVER LIMESTONE— CALCIFEROUS ROCKS.



8i



purposes. The rocks of the group occur on the
banks of the Hudson, about one and one-fourth to
one and one-half miles above Clinton Point. They
are slate or slaty altered limestones, that would
not be recognized as limestone without flose exami-
nation. The strata dip at a high angle to the east,
like all the rocks in the vicinity. Among the fos-
sils of this group are the Isotelus gigas, Calymene
senaria, Cryptolithus tessellatus, Favosites lyco-
podites and several other species, several species of
Crinoidea, Orthocera striatum, Orthocera duplex
( C,) Trocholites ammonius ( C,) and several other
species, Bellerophon apertus, Strophomena alter-
naia, S. semiovalis, S. deltoidea, Delthyris microp-
tera, Atrypa glabella, Orthis testudinaria.

The Black River Limestone is more extensively
developed in the district than the Trenton Lime-
stone. It is found not only in continuous strata,
but in numerous limited patches. It is one of the
most durable and valuable stones for buildings,
locks, bridges and aqueducts, and is easily quarried
and dressed. The limestone beds in Milan which
are supposed to belong to this group, form a sur-
face mass one htmdred to two hundred yards in
width, which is crossed by the Pine Plains and
Rhinebeck turnpike, one and three-fourths miles
west of LaFayette Corners. It is compact, fine-
grained, sub-crystalline, and much is more or less
" sparry," in consequence of its being traversed by
veins. A similar limestone is found in the eastern
part of Red Hook and in Clinton, ranging through
the western part of Milan. The limestone near
Lithgow on the road from Poughkeepsie and Amenia
is another example. Another similar limestone,
but blacker, occurs on the same road about a mile
from Washington Hollow. The limestones near
Fishkill, Matteawan, Sprout Creek, Poughquaick,
etc., are further examples. These limestones in
FishkiH, Beekman, Pleasant Valley and Washing-
ton are more or less altered by metamorphic action.
Conglomerate limestone, some blocks of which
were nearly black, intersected by white and yellow
veins, was observed in Clinton, and brecciated
limestone in the eastern part of Rhinebeck.
Numerous other localities of conglomerate and
brecciated limestone were observed.

The Calciferous group of rocks is intermediate in
composition, as it is in age, between the Trenton
and Black River (or Mohawk,) limestones and
the Potsdam sandstone. The rocks are cal-
careo-siliceous, and sometimes one and some-
times the other predominates and gives character
to them. The water-lined laminge of deposi-



tion are very conspicuous in some of the
strata of calciferous sandstone. The rocks of this
group occupy a long narrow belt, extending from
Clinton Point through Poughkeepsie, Pleasant Val-
ley, Stanford and Pine Plains. The first continu-
ous range of this Umestone of much magnitude in
the district is seen at Bamegat, where it crosses the
Hudson, and from this fact it received the dis-
tinctive name of Bamegat Limestone. Wappin-
ger Creek forms its eastern boundary at Attlebury.
It crosses the valley of Pine Plains under the great
peat and marl marsh and Stissing Pond. It varies
in its character from a sandy, granular, sub-crystal-
line texture, to a perfect compact limestone, with
a conchoidal fracture. It is usually gray, granular
and sub-crystalline, with grains of sand and minute
quartz crystals disseminated. Small cavities lined
with quartz crystals are common. It is sometimes
distinctly stratified, and even slaty near its junc-
tion with the slate rocks, but frequently its beds are
so thick, and the masses of the ledges so broken
that scarcely any traces of stratification are visible.
It was formerly important in consequence of its
extensive application to the manufacture of lime,
at and near Bamegat, where six, ten and even
twenty* kilns are said to have been in operation. In
1843, there were six kilns which were kept constantly
burning during the period of river navigation, and
produced 720,000 bushels per annum. There were
numerous other kilns in the county the aggregate
annual product of which was then estimated to be
1,500,000 bushels. This lime was shipped mostly
to New Jersey and applied to the sandy soils of
that State proved a valuable fertilizer. The busi-
ness in this county has declined, and for the last
six years no lime has been burned at Barnegat.

These rocks, in which Prof. Mather says he was
unable to detect a trace of fossil remains, and that
Prof. Briggs discovered faint traces of shells, but
too imperfect for determination, the more recent
and careful investigation by Professors Dana and
Dwight proved to be highly fossiUferous ; and
among the specimen fossils '• were a number in a
state of preservation sufficiently distinct to fix in-
contestably the age of the rock as that of the Tren-
ton epoch." In the spring of 1879, Professors
Dana and Dwight visited the little quarry on the
creek half a mile south-east of Pleasant Valley,
where, nearly forty years before, the labors of Prof
Briggs had been rewarded with such meager results,
and found the following fossils: Cyathophylloid
corals, and several species of Crinoids, the latter

* Gordon's Gazetteer of the State of New Yerlt, (1836) 433.



82



HISTORY OF DUCHESS COUNTY.



in abundance; Orthis testudinaria, Orthis tricen-
aria, Orthis jmiceum, and what were apparently
fragments of Trilobites and also of the Brachiopod,
Strophomena alternata. There were also masses
of rock filled, apparently, with small rounded
pebbles, which, on subsequent slicing, proved to be
a Chcetetes coral of remarkably minute structure.
At Rochdale, on the premises of Mr. Henry Titus,
they found the same fossils as at Pleasant Valley^
and in addition a great many specimens of a very
singular and doubtless new fossil which appears to
resemble most closely those organisms so httle un-
derstood, which are called receptaculites. During
several visits to the latter place that summer.
Prof. Dwight found abundant specimens of Stro-
phomena alternata, Orthis pectinella, one En-
doceras twenty to twenty-five centimeters in length,
one Escharapora recta, one Ptilodictya acuta, a
pygidium of a Calymene Trilobite, and several speci-
mens which were probably Petriaia corniculutn,
besides additional individuals of fossils previously
mentioned. He also found that the fine Chatetes
mentioned existed in profusion in the rock. At
Manchester he found a large slab covered with a
beautiful fucoid, probably Buthothrepis gracilis.
At Wallace's quarry, one and one-fourth miles be-
low Salt Point, and in several cuts on the railroad
between that place and Pleasant Valley, he found
an entirely new set of fossils, and in a rock of quite
different appearance from that at Rochdale and
Pleasant Valley, there were great numbers of
univalve discoidel shells sometimes intermixed with
fucoids. There were also small Orthocerata, but
an entire lack of the various species found at the
other localities.

The fine Chcetefes compacta, and the large
crinoid Cleiocrinus magnificus, the latter of which
was found by Prof. Dwight near Newburgh, were
never before found in the State nor south > of
Canada.

Roofing slate* is an altered rock, intermediate in
character, hke its associates, between the rocks
described under the Champlain division and those
to be describedunder the " Taconic " system. The
rock and its associates, which are similar to those
already described under the Champlain division,
are penetrated by quartz veins in great numbers,
and by interlaminations of quartz. It ranges from
Vermont through Washington, Rensselaer, Colum-

*Roofing slate has been quarried in various places in the county ; and
at least two companies have been formed for that purpose : the New
Tfork Slate Co., incorporated March 2jd, iSlo, to continue fifteen years ;
and the Duchess Co. Slate Co., incorporated June 8, iSu, to continue
twenty-one years. The operations of the latter company were to be con-
fined to North East.— J^VsMcAV Gazetteer of New York, iSyj.



bia. Duchess, Ulster and Orange counties to New
Jersey and Pennsylvania, and is quarried for roof
slate in many places, but not in this county.

The Taconic* system consists of slates, lime-
stones and granular quartz rocks, which form a
belt of mountainous and hilly country, of which the
eastern and southern portions of this coimty form
a part. The strike and dip of the rocks are in the
same directions as those of the Champlain di-
vision, and apparently overlie them. The dip is to
the east, east-south-east, and east-north-east, at
angles varying from fifteen to ninety degrees. Al-
though the rocks all dip in the same general direc-
tion, similar strata at no great distance are fre-
quently reversed in their relative order of superpo-
sition. This is more frequently observed on the
opposite sides of ridges, hills and mountains. The
talcose slates of this syst^ are not confined to the
belt described, but local patches are found in many
places. The rocks of the system are more or less
distinctly characterized when they approach to
gneiss and granite and when quartz has been in-
truded most abundantly among them. When the
exact order of superposition of these rocks and the
primary can be examined, it is found that the gran-
ular quartz either rests upon, or pitches immedi-
ately under, the gneiss or granite rocks ; that the
limestones lie next in order to the gneiss or granite,
either in super or sub-position and that the slates
next follow. The observer may find much diffi-
culty in verifying this, as the rocks are almost uni-
versally much deranged from the position in which
they were deposited. The connection may be
traced on the south-west side of Mt. Stissing in
Pine Plains and Stanford.

The sandstones of the Taconic system are grey,
reddish, striped and white, and all are very hard,
tough, indurated quartzose.rocks. , The hmestones
are grey and black, compact in some -places j
crystalline, grey, and sparry or checkered in others ;
and not unfrequently granular, whitish and crystal-
line. The same continuous rock has undergone
these changes at different localities, in proportion
as it has been more or less subjected to the influ-
ences that have modified it. The slate rock has
undergone as great changes. It varies from argil-
laceous slate, through graphic, plumbaginous,

* This name, given by Prof Emmons to designate the rocks forming the
Williamstown Mountain, which are very peculiar in their aspect, but
blend in to the Champlain division on the one hand, and into the Pri-
mary rocks on the other, is variously spelled; but we follow both%e orthog-
raphy and classification of Prof Mather ; though Prof Dwight says the
recently' discovered fossils within this county "are so many proofs that
there is no Taconic system in geological history, as far at least as this its
original and typical seat in the Taghkanic Mountains is concerned."



SLATE FORMATIONS.



83



chlorite and talcose slate. Modifications of the
latter two are most common, sometimes mingled
with blue, green, red and mottled slates. It is
more or less permeated by veins and branches of
milky quartz, which often contains chlorite and
brown spar disseminated in bunches.

A mountain mass of Taconic rocks ranges
through Ancram to the east part of Pine Plains,
the west part of North East, and the north-west
part of Amenia. The north part, in Ancram, is
called Winchell Mountain. It is composed of
slate, talcy slate and chloritic slates, and is inter-
sected by numerous veins of quartz. Limestone
ranges along the base of the mountain on both
sides. It is generally grey and blue, though in
some places at the east base it is white. About
one and a half miles north-west from the gate,
which is on the mountain west of Amenia, the slate
is chloritic, and is soon succeeded, as we approach
the " City "* by talcose slate. A short distance
north of the "City," the rocks are much broken
up, and are talcy slate and talcy limestone. Both
rocks contain cubic crystals of iron pyrites. The
bluish grey and clouded hmestone soon succeeds
on the west, apparently pitching under the talcy
slate. In some places this limestone was checked
by veins of carbonate of lime and quartz. Lime-
stone was seen in places from thence to Pine Plains,
except at a place where the road crosses a small
stream about half or three-fourths of a mile east of
the Quaker meeting-house, and here slate was seen
in place. A mass of alternating slate and lime-
stone enters the town of Pine Plains from Ancram.
Some of the slate is black with carbon, (graphic
slate,) and in places plumbaginous. The limestone
is grey and subgranular, blue and compact, and
sparry.

On the route from Amenia, through the central
and west parts of North East towards Pine Plains,
Prof. Merrick observed masses of talcose slate
firmly adhering to the hmestone, but in no case
penetrating it; and talcose slate a httle farther
west, dipping so as apparently, but not really, to
plunge under the limestone. This locality is on
the Worster Wheeler farm, about one and a half
miles south-east of the village of North East. The
limestone is grey, variegated and granular, and
would make a beautiful clouded marble. About a
mile north-west of Wheeler's, well characterized
mica slate was observed in the hill on the east, and
talco-argillaceous slate on the west side of the
road. About half a mile farther west he observed

* The " City " is a small post village in the north-west part of Amenia.



a ridge of limestone dipping to the west. About
one and a half miles north-west of North East vil-
lage near a small stream, the talcose slate and
limestone were observed to alternate twice. The
actual junction, where the rocks were firmly
cemented together, was observed in one place. A
similar junction of the talcose slate and limestone
was observed in North East, where the road crosses
the outlet of Indian Pond. A few rods east and
south-east of the Amenia ore bed, the slaty lime-
stone is seen superposed on the talcy slate. On
the summit of the mountain in North East, where
the Sharon road intersects that from Amenia to
Pine Plains, the rock is slightly talcy. Soon after
leaving the base of the mountain, the limestone
was observed to be abundant. On the east side of
the mountain it alternates with the slate, which is
variable in character, in some places being talcy, in
others like roof slate. Nearly opposite the Episco-
pal church, a half mile north of Lithgow, in Wash-



Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 17 of 125)