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 18 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 18 of 125)
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ington, the sparry hmestone was observed several
rods in width, dipping to the east and ranging
south thirty degrees west. At the " City " the rock
is talco-argillaceous slate ; and about a hundred
rods west of this place is an old mine hole, reputed
to be a copper mine, but Prof Cassels reported
that the copper ore, if any had been obtained there,
must have been in very small quantity. The exca-
vation is in the talco-argillaceous slate, traversed
by veins of milky quartz.

Pine Plains is situated on the quartemary, and un-
derlaid by the slate rocks ; but the sparry limestone
forms a ridge called Mill Hill, a Httle east of the
village, and this is the prevailing rock, alternating,
however, with slate, for three to three and a half
miles towards the Salisbury ore bed. It is suc-
ceeded by the slate of Winchell's Mountain, which
is talco-argillaceous, and in some cases micaceous.
The slate dips to the east at a high angle. Lime-
stone succeeds the slate for a short distance a little
east of Pulver's Corners, and alternates several
times between that and the Salisbury ore bed; but
the most important are at Spericer's Corners, and
at the brook by the hne between New York and
Connecticut, on the turnpike. The slate of Winch-
ell's Mountain is very fissile, talcy, micaceous
and argillaceous, frequently colored, and more or
less loaded with plumbago. The limestone about
Pine Plains seems to divide into two branches, one
of which ranges by the south end of Mt. Stissing,
(where it is underlaid by the Potsdam sandstone
resting on gneiss,) down Wappinger Creek to
Barnegat ; the other up the valley of Shekomeko



Creek, through the west part of North East, the
west part of Amenia, the east part of Washington,
by Lithgow and Mabbittsville, and down the Clove,
through Union Vale and Beeknian into Fishkill.
Another branch ranges from Stanford through
Washington, to half a mile south of'Verbank in
Union Vale, to Poughquaick in Beekman, and
thence down Fishkill Creek to Matteawan. In
many places near the mica slate and gneiss of the
Chestnut ridge, (which is the southern extension of
Winchell's Mountain towards the Highlands,) and
especially in the low valleys, the limestone is altered
to a grey and white granular limestone, more or less
dolomitic, like that of the Dover and Oblong valley
east of Chestnut Ridge and Winchell's Mountain.
About a quarter of a mile south-east of Pulver's
Corners in Pine Plains, on the east side of Winch-
ell's Mountain, the junction of the slate and sparry
limestone was observed. Both dipped sHghtly to
the west, the slate being on the west side. A
quarry of talco-argillaceous slate containing cubic
cavities in which crystals of pyrites have been em-
bedded, was seen on the east side of Winchell's
Mountain, about a quarter of a mile north of Pul-
ver's Corners. The rock of this quarry is used for
the lining of furnaces, and when laid with the edges
to the inside of the stack, resists the heat almost
as well as fire bricks. Prof. Merrick observed a
slaty and talcy limestone at the base of a hill a lit-
tle west of the village of Separate, in Amenia.
Talco-micaceous slate lies next on the east, and
talco-argillaceous on the west, traversed by veins
of quartz. The fragments of quartz are very much
scattered over the surface. The talco-argillaceous
slate becomes less talcy on the west, and forms the
range of hills in the east part of Stanford. The
rock is very much contorted. A few rods west of
Thompson's pond, he observed limestone which he
believed would make a fine clouded marble, but
only a small area of the rock was exposed.

The granular quartz rock at the south-west end
of Mount Stissing may, from its modified character,
be considered as belonging to the Taconic rocks.
It is nearly horizontal in position, reposing on
gneiss at the base of Mount Stissing, and is overlaid
by the Barnegat limestone, and that by the slate
rocks of the west side of the mountain. It re-
sembles gneiss at a little distance, but is a hard,
closed-grained sihceous grit rock. Another mass
of this rock was mentioned by Walter Reynolds,
of Pine Plains, and said to cross the limestone
ridge obliquely a short distance south-east of Pine

The ridge dividing Washington and Pleasant
Valley has breccia and sparry limestone on its west
base, and red slate a little further to the west. It
ranges so into La Grange. Talcy slate was also
observed by Prof. Merrick a little east of Verbank,
and he considered it an extension of that observed
in the south-east corner of Stanford ; also sparry
Umestone a half mile east of Mabbittsville, and
talcy slate two and a half miles east of that village.
The slate in the ridges passing through the east
part of Stanford, the middle and west parts of
Washington, and along the Une between Union
Vale and La Grange, is very much traversed and
intersected by veins of quartz, and is contorted.
The outcropping edges are waving. Extensive
excavations are said to have been made in these
rocks in the north-east part of La Grange during
the latter part of the eigli'teenth century in search
of silver ; and, although there were marvelous
reports of the quantities obtained, no traces of any
metal were observed but pyrites.

Talcy limestone was observed in places about a
quarter of a mile west of Hopewell. White lime-
stone, that would make a good marble, was seen
about a mile west of Poughquaick. Limestone is
the most common rock seen emfrging through the
-extensive quarternary plains of Fishkill, and in
many places it assumes the aspect of what has been
habitually called primitive limestone, but it is the
same as that generally found in this valley, which
has been traced in modified forms from a compact
and sandy limestone to a white marble, from
Vermont to the Highlands. About a mile and a
half above Matteawan, near the creek, the lime-
stone seemed to repose on granite. It was on the
east side of the granite, dipping to the east, and
the granite was succeeded on the west by red and
green slates that seemed to pitch under it towards
the east. The direction of the granite and asso-
ciated rocks was parallel to the creek for some
distance, forming a low ridge, which finally crosses
the stream about a quarter of a mile from the
bridge. The strike is north fifty degrees east.
The red and green slates are red and green in the
same continuous layers, and the colors are probably
due to the different degrees of oxidation of iron in
the different parts of the rock. Near Matteawan^
also, the granite, and red, green and black shales
were observed. About a mile east of Stormville,
the limestone of the Fishkill valley is succeeded by
the granite and gneissoid rocks of the Highlands.
Patches of limestone, however, ' like that of the
valley, were occasionally seen on the mountains



farther east. The dip of the primary rocks was
sixty to eighty degrees eastwardly, and the strike
north forty-five to sixty degrees east.

Metamorphic rocks include such as present evi-
dence which renders it highly probable that they
were originally sedimentary, but have been altered
in their character, so as to change them into such
as have usually been called primary. In those of
this portion of the first district, the limestones are
granular, dolomitized and stratified; the slates are
talco-argillaceous, talcose, chloritic, or micaceous,
the latter predominating, and the sandstones are
changed to granular quartz rock, eurite and gneiss.
The intrusive rocks bear but a small proportion to
the altered rocks, and are mostly quartz and
granite. These rocks range from Bennington and
Shaftsbury in Vermont, in a direction about south,
through the west part of Massachusetts and Con-
necticut and the east part of New York, in the
counties of Duchess, Putnam, Westchester and New
York, to Long Island Sound and Hudson River.
Between the Taconic rocks and the Metamorphic
rocks to the east of them, no well-marked line of
distinction can be drawn, as they blend into each
other by insensible shades of difference. The
strata of the metamorphic rocks are very much
broken, so that no stratum has been traced con-
tinuously for more than a few miles.

These rocks enter the State in the north-east
corner of this county from the south end of Mt.
Washington, the mica slate from which crosses the
valley of Oblong Creek very obUquely ; also the
mountain called Chestnut Ridge, south of Amenia,
and Winchell's Mountain north of that place. The
mica slate occupies about half the breadth of
the mountain west of Amenia, on the turnpike
from that place to Poughkeepsie, and it forms
most of the same mountain to the Highlands, as
the west boundary of the Oblong and Dover valleys.
On the east of this range of mica slate, (which
rnerges on the west into talcy and talco-argillaceous
slate,) the rocks are almost entirely of mica slate,
crystalline, white and grey dolomitic Umestones, and
quartz rock, eastward to the gneiss rocks near the,

In some places garnets and crystals of staurotide
are found in the mica slate, but they are not com-
mon, and more frequently it shows a talco-argilla-
ceous character in New York, indicative of its origin,
except in the Highlands and farther south. Near
the line between North East and Salisbury, the
talco-micaceous slate and whitish Umestone were
observed, and a little farther east the mica slate was

well characterized and contained garnets and some
crystals of staurotide. The rocks dipped rapidly
to the eastward. At the Indian Pond ore bed,
white and grey limestone apparently underlies, and
mica slate overlies the ore. These rocks dip sixty
to seventy degrees to the eastward. The moun-
tain near and south-west of Leedsville is composed
of mica slate and limestone, and both dip to the
east at a high angle. Nearly all the rock seen in
place between that mountain and Amenia was lime-
stone, always highly inclined to the east, and some-
times almost vertical. It is generally white or grey
and granular. At the Amenia ore bed, white lime-
stone was seen in place a few rods to the west, and
talco-micaceous slate on the east, the latter over-
laid by bluish and sandy Umestone. At the Deep-
Hollow furnace, two and a half miles south of
Amenia, the rock is mica slate, somewhat talcy.
Limestone succeeds the mica slate on the east side
of the valley opposite the furnace, and this is suc-
ceeded farther east by mica slate. These rocks
form the mountain which here terminates on the
south, and extends northward to a little west of
Leedsville, becoming very low to the riorth-east of
Amenia Seminary. The limestone is quarried a
little east of the furnace and used as a flux in
smelting the ore. The rock is white and lies in
nearly vertical strata. Between the Deep-Hollow
furnace and the steel works farther to the south-
east, the rock is mica slate, and is succeeded on
the east by white and grey granular Umestone.
The Umestone was seen in place from near KUne's
Corners, in the south-east part of Amenia, and
thence at frequent intervals to Leedsville. Much
of it is very white and massive. There seems to
be main ranges of the white limestone in the valley
east of the Chestnut ridge. One ranges down the
west branch of the vaUey from North East by
Amenia Seminary and Deep-Hollow furnace;
thence south to two miles north of Dover Plains ;
thence by Dover Plains, cropping out at intervals
in low ridges and hummocks through the quarter-
nary of the Dover valley. The other ranges down
the Oblong valley in Sharon and Amenia by Leeds-
ville, Hitchcock's Corners, KUne's Corners, and
the hills a little east of Dover, where it crops out
also in low ridges through the quarternary.

The mountains west of the steel works, which
seem to terminate abruptly to the south, and are a
part of the Chestnut ridge, are of mica slate, and
garnets are not uncommon in it. At the " Stone
Church," half of a mile south-west of Dover Plains,
mica slate may be seen weU exposed. Garnets and


a single crystal of staurotide were observed here.
Fine specimens of the mica slate containing gar-
nets may be obtained at the falls of Wassaic Creek,
above the furnace in Amenia. Near the " City,"
the mica slate passes into the talcose slate. On
the road from Amenia north-east to the Chalk
Pond ore bed, the limestone, mica slate and talc
slate were all seen in a position nearly horizontal.
They may be better examined between the Chalk
Pond ore bed and Perry's Corners. Limestone of
very white color may be seen three-fourths of a
mile north-east of Amenia Seminary. The mica
slate is sometimes loaded with iron pyrites. One
locality, called the alum rock, is in the south part
of Amenia, not far south-east of the furnace ;
another is the mountain two miles south-west of
Amenia, in contorted, talcy, micaceous slate. It is
sometimes carbonaceous. It dips ten to forty
degrees to the west. Garnets are stated to be
abundant in the mica slate between Beekman and
the south-west part of Dover, by Prof. Cassels.
White limestone skirts the east base of the Chest-
nut ridge in Dover and into Pawling. The lime-
stone at some of the marble quarries near Dover
Plains is in nearly vertical strata. Generally, all
the strata of rocks in this region dip to the east-
south-east at high angles. Professors Cassels and
Merrick explored the Dover valley south into Paw-
ling, almost to Putnam county, and found it skirted
nearly the whole distance on the west by white
limestone in nearly vertical strata, dipping seventy-
five to eighty degrees to the east. The strike was
almost north and south.

The " Stone Church " is a place of some noto-
riety as a natural curiosity. It is a deep chasm in
the mica slate rock, worn out much larger by the
wearing action of a stream of water. It is very
irregular in its dimensions, broader at bottom than
at top, with large masses of rock in the bottom,
over which it is necessary for the visitor to clam-
ber to explore its more remote parts. Segments of
pot-holes have been worn in the rocks by the action
of pebbles and the rapid flow of water.

The Duchess county marble varies somewhat in
its character. It is almost always dolomitic,* or
composed of the carbonates of lime and magnesia
in variable proportions. Sometimes it is large
grained and quite compact ; at others it is fine
grained, and so loose in its texture as to be unfit
for a building rhaterial. A specimen of this marble
from Dover, which was of snow-white color, had a

* Dolomite derives its name from the French geologist Dolomieu. When
pure, it consists of 54-3 per cent, of carbonate of lime and 45.7 per cent,
of carbonate of magnesia.

granular texture, and was as friable as loaf sugar,
gave upon analysis the following results in one hun-
dred parts, viz : carbonate of lime, 60. 50 ; carbon-
ate of magnesia, 39. 50.*

About one and a half miles east of Kline's Cor-
ners, near the hne between Kent, Amenia and Do-
ver, heavy beds of close-grained granular quartz
were observed. This rock seems to form also a
portion of the mountain ranging southwardly, called
Elbow Mountain, and that ranging northwardly,
called Peaked Mountain in the reports.f Th# east
side of Elbow Mountain trends nearly south, and
the west nearly in a south-west direction. The
north end presents a sharp summit, but opposite
Dover it is three or four miles wide. The quartz
rock may be easily examined on the road from
Kline's Corners to Kent, in a field on the north
side of the road. It contains some small black
crystals in some places, which are probably horn-
blende or black tourmaline. This quartz rock is
believed to be the same as the Potsdam sandstone,
only altered by its proximity to granitic and in-
trusive rocks.

The granular limestone of Duchess county is
very extensive, and does not yield to any other
mineral deposit in the county in prospective value.
Marble quarries are extensively wrought in some
parts of its range, which extends through the great-
er part of the length of the county, and crops out
with variable breadth from a few hundred yards to
several miles. It varies much in texture and color.
It is granular and compact, white, grey, clouded,
striped, and nearly black. In some localities it is
strong and difficult to break ; in others it is dolo-
mitic and very friable, and crumbles to sand by
exposure to the weather. The hmestone beds of
this range are interstratified with talcose and mica-
ceous slate. They dip to the east and east-south-
east from twenty to ninety degrees. * It is rarely
used, except as a wall stone. Lime has been made
from it in Amenia and some other places. It
makes a good strong lime.

The calcareous sand, caused by the disintegra-
tion near the surface of many of the beds of dolo-
mitic limestone, may probably be used with advan-
tage on the soil as a 'substitute for marl. It is
found by experience that the lime of these dolo-
mites does not injure vegetation, like that of Euro-
pean magnesian limestones ; and the rock here is
pulverulent, and ready to act on vegetation in
the same manner as marl. *

* Prof. BecK s Fourth Geological Report, 6l, 62.

t Vide Second Annual Geological Report of New York, 1838, p i^^.



The principal marble quarries in the county are
in the town of Dover, near the village of Dover
Plains, Preston's and Ketcham's quarries being the
principal openings. Two stone saw-mills reduce
the huge blocks to marketable slabs, and are
abundantly supplied from the quarries with sharp,
gritty sand, without which the saws would be pow-
erless. The marble works easily and is susceptible
of a fine polish. It is almost a pure white, fine-
grained, dolomitic limestone, and is mostly used
for tomb-stones.

Near Kline's and Hitchcock's Corners are exten-
sive beds of limestone which do not crumble by
the action of the weather, and would make a good
marble. In Beekman, near Doughty's mills, fine
marble, in beds of a few feet in thickness, were ob-
served, as also in several places in East Fishkill,
near Stormville and Hopewell. Clouded marbles
were observed by Mr. Merrick on the Worster
Wheeler and E. Merritt farms in North East, and
was quarried in the latter place in the early part of
the present century. Other quarries have been
worked in several places, though the demand for
the particular kinds was not sufficient to make them
profitable. Beds of marble as good as that so well
known in Egremont and Stockbridge, undoubtedly
exist in North East, Amenia, Dover, Pawling,
Beekman and Fishkill. The resources of Duchess
county in valuable marbles are inexhaustible.

East of Poughquaick in Beekman, the granular
quartz rock was seen, having almost the characters
of gneiss, and the slate was changed to a mica
slate. South of Shenandoah the granular quartz
was seen again, and there it was compact and
homogeneous like eurite, but retained its strata
planes. The associated limestones are very grey
and white. The dip was in some places almost
vertical to the south-east.

Steatite (soap-stone) was seen near Peckville.
It is there intermixed with serpentine, and al-
though abundant, and quarried in large blocks, it
was found difficult to saw it well in consequence
of the different degrees of hardness of the steatite
and serpentine. It is beautifully spotted aiid
clouded, and as steatite indurates by heat, it is
possible that it may at some future time be wrought
as an ornamental stone. Some of the masses of
steatite are very pure, soft and easily wrought. In
some parts of the bed the rock is granular, or
scaly talc, either pure, or traversed in every direc-
tion by crystals of actynolite.

The iron ore of Duchess County is very abun-
dant, and makes iron of the best quality. -The

mines are numerous, and, generally, are easily
worked and free from water. The ore consists
principally of limonite, (sometimes called brown
hematite,) which varies in its state of aggregation
from a yellow pulverulent mass to a compact brown
iron-stone. It is mammillary, botryoidal, spongi-
form, and with stalactitic forms, some of which
have hemispherical, and others acicular termina-
tions; others are like bunches of pendant moss.
The solid stalactitic forms are fibrous, with
diverging radii from the center. The specimens
are beautiful and highly ornamental as curiosities
and as minerals. In 1843, there were said to be
ten furnaces within twelve miles of Amenia, which
made in the aggregate about 10,000 tons of iron per
annum, and affijrded employment to about 1,000
men as ore-diggers, coal-men, teamsters, smelters,
limestone-diggers, etc. Some of these were in
Connecticut, near the line ; but the furnace at
Hopewell was not included in the number. In
t88o the production of iron in the county had in-
creased to more than six times that quantity —
61,637 tpns, exceeding the production of any pre-
ceding year. The malleable iron from the furnaces
in this county is highly valued for its toughness and
softness, and has been extensively employed in
making anchors, musket and pistol barrels, wire,
etc. The ore makes the finest car-wheels and can-
non, and it is said by experts to be peculiarly
adapted to making the best steel. The geological
situation of the ore-beds is very constant, and
mostly at the junction of mica or talcose slate
with the grey and white limestones. The limestone
generally crops out on the west side of the ore
beds, and the mica and talc slate on the east, and
both dip at an angle of from twenty to sixty degrees
to the east-south-east.

The ore bed in East Fishkill is thus described by
Dr. Beck in the Geological Report of 1837: —

" This is the ore bed belonging to the Fishkill
Iron Company. It is situated about three miles
north-east of the village of Hopewell. The hill in
which it occurs presents no peculiarity that I
could discover, except that its surface" is made
up of coarse gravel, and has a rounded form in
various places. The ore is covered by a stiff whitish
clay, and is intermixed with the same substance,
called fuller's earth by the miners. Quartz is also
one of the accompanying minerals, and a sort of
slate is also found in the center of the mass of ore,
which causes some inconvenience to the smelter.
The whole bed is made up of nodules of ore of
various sizes and forms, but unusually rounded,
which are covered, and apparently cemented
together with a yellowish brown clayey ochre.
These nodules are often hollow ; and when this is



the case, the inner surface is highly polished, and
has the appearance of having been fused. Some-
times also beautiful stalactites, of various sizes and
forms, are found in these balls ; and occasionally
there is observed a thin lining of a black powdery
nature, resembling plumbago, which is believed to
be oxide .of manganese. The structure of the ore
is fibrous, and its color brown. This bed is worked
by levels or burrows carried in various directions
through the hill in which it is situated. These ex-
cavations have already extended to the distance of
ninety or a hundred feet from the entrance. The
roof of these burrows is from twelve to thirty feet
above the floor, and is supported by pillars of ore,
from five to teti feet in thickness. The ore alter-
nates with the clay and Slate, and from what I sub-
sequently observed, I infer that the bed rests upon
mica slate, although I did not find that rock in the
immediate vicinity."

Most of t;he galleries, says Prof. Mather, in 1843,
have caved in, in consequence of the injudicious
method of working the ore. The superincumbent
materials are clay, loam, gravel and pebbles, im-
perfectly aggregated like " hard pan ;" so that when
the soil becomes very wet, they have little tenacity;
and as the galleries are made large, and without
any support to sustain the superincumbent mater-
ials, they cave in, and render the extraction of ore
expensive. The ore is of good quaUty, but more
mixed with earthy matter than at many of the
other mines. Limestone was seen in places a few
rods west of the mines, and of the same general
character as that seen at the various mines of this
kind of iron ore. There are at present (1881) two
mines in this locality, situated on the Clove Branch
of the Newburgh, Duchess & Connecticut Rail-
road, viz: Brown's and Tower's, the former em-
ploying about forty men and the latter about thirty.
Their combmed product is about 150 tons of ore
per day, that of the latter being transported to the

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 18 of 125)