Photograph by Richards B. Mackintosh 332
Fig. 178. Syenite ledge stripped of debris and rounded by the action of
glacial ice. East Gloucester. Photograph by John L. Gardner, 2d 332
Fig. 179. Niles' pond, Eastern point, Gloucester 334
Fig. 180. Hard-packed bouldery gravel covered by a moraine of boulders,
Fig. 181. Moraines of boulders at Rockport, northeast of Dogtown common,
showing a halting place of the glacial ice during its retreat from
the region 338
Glacial erratic boulders at Dogtown common, Gloucester .... 338
Moraines of boulders, east of Beach Grove cemetery, Rockport . . 340
Another view of the above 340
Wolf hill, Gloucester. Perched glacial boulders ^ipon its summit.
Photograph by John L. Gardner, 2d 342
Fig. 186. Drainage crease at Manchester, the outlet from a large valley at
the west which was filled with glacial ice. Photograph by
W. T. Clark 342
Fig. 187. Cape pond, Rockport 346
Fig. 188. Incipient landslide on Brake hill. West Newbury 346
Fig. 189. Mature landslide on Long hill, West Newbury 348
Fig. 190. Another view of the above 348
18 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Fig. 191. Adolescent landslide, Hog island, Essex. The slide has formed
a bench near the fifty-foot contotir line from which spring-water
continually flows down the hill 350
Fig. 192. North ridge, Jeffrey's Neck, Ipswich, as seen from Eagle island,
showing live landslides around the base of the ridge and above
a grass-grown bench of an earlier slide 350
Fig. 193. Plan of the valley of Porter's river, East Danvers 354
Fig. 194. Clay -beds covered by a thin coating of river silts and sand. West
side of the Merrimac river near Mitchell's falls, Haverhill.
Photograph by Richard A. Hale 356
Fig. 195. Danversport, showing the area covered by brick-clays. Folly
hill in the distance 356
Fig. 196. Leda-clay at the bottom of the Edward Carr clay-pit, Liberty
street, Danversport 360
Fig. 197. Peabody Pottery Company's clay-pit near Purchase street, Dan-
Fig. 198. Cross-section of the valley of Crane river, Danvers 362
Fig. 199. Cross-section of the clay-pit of the Peabody Pottery Company,
near Purchase street, Danvers 362
Fig. 200. Cross-section of the valley of Porter's river, Danvers 366
Fig. 201. Cross-section of the clay-pit of the Edward Carr, Liberty street,
Fig. 202. Fossil starfish, Astericanthian Linckii, Miiller, found in the Richard
Graham clay-pit, Lynn 369
Fig. 203. Longham basin, North Beverly, showing escarpment at the right
and in the background 373
Fig. 204. Gravel-pit at Legg's hill, Salem, showing kame gravels 373
Fig. 205. Portlandia Arctica, Gray. From the Peabody Pottery clay-pit.
Purchase street, Danvers 376
Pig. 206. Glacial marine fossils found in leda-clay in the Edward Carr clay-
pit. Liberty street, Danvers 378
Fig. 207. Glacial marine fossils found in leda-clay at Danvers 382
Fig. 208. Cambrian fossils from Nahant and Jeffrey's ledge 386
Pig. 209. Cambrian fossils from Topsfield and Nahant 390
Fig, 2. â€” WIERRIWIAC RIVER AT THE LAWRENCE DAM,
Winter of I 897.
Fig. 3. â€” MERRIMAC RIVER AT THE LAWRENCE DAM.
During a spring freshet.
THE PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY, MINERALOGY, AND
PALEONTOLOGY OF ESSEX COUNTY,
Essex County, Massachusetts, is situated between latitude 42Â° 53' 10.49"
north, and 42Â° 25' 09.20" south; and between longitude 70Â° 34' 46.28"
east, and 71Â° i5'is.33" west. The County contains 355,840 acres, of which
21,789 acres are tidal marsh covered by sea-water at high tide; 18,000
acres are covered by sea-water in the form of bays, harbors, and drowned
river valleys; and 16,500 acres are covered with fresh-water ponds, lakes,
rivers, and swamps; leaving 299,551 acres occupied by city and village
sites, woodlands and tillage lands.' The number of acres within the
territorial limits of each town and city is inserted as Appendix A.
Watersheds. â€” The principle watersheds in the County are in the
valleys occupied by extended streams: the Saugus river at the south,
the Ipswich and Parker rivers flowing across the central part of the area,
the Merrimac river in the northern part of the County, and a number of
small tributaries which empty into the extended streams, together with a
few small streams rising near the coast-line and emptying into the sea.
Examples of the latter are: Mill brook, which rises in a swamp one mile
north of Pride's Crossing and empties into the sea between Beverly Farms
and West Manchester; Beaver Dam and Saw Mill brooks in Manchester;
and Frost-fish brook, Danvers, which empties into Porter's river, a drowned
river valley or tidal stream flowing in and out through Beverly harbor.
Several interesting divides in these streams show almost exactly the
height of land, which is remarkable as the water fall is very slight. The
valleys are nearly level and the streams flow sluggishly except in times of
flood. One of these divides occurs in a meadow in Danvers, in the valley
' In 1905, there were seven cities and twenty-eight towns in the County.
22 WATERSHEDS AND SPRINGS
between Goodale's and Fair Maid hills. During the winter the ice forming
over the surface becomes frozen into a mound. A small brook which
makes its way from this mound flows to the eastward and supplies the
head-waters of Crane's river which flows to tide-water at Danversport.
Another brook which rises from this ice moiuid, flows westerly and joins
Boundary brook between Danvers and Peabody and empties into the
Ipswich river in Danvers. Another similar divide occurs in Topsfield,
south of the Ipswich river, near a contact of the hornblende granite with
the diorite and the Cambrian limestones. In a small meadow south of
Pingree's hill, a brook rising from a spring flows westerly under HiU
street and Rowley Bridge street and empties into the Ipswich river. An-
other brook starting from the same meadow flows easterly under the Boston
and Newburyport turnpike, thence across the northern part of Danvers
to Wenham swamp, and then into the Ipswich river. Similar divides in
the watershed may be found in several towns in the County.
Springs. â€” All the streams in the County flow from springs, often
called boiling springs because the water bubbles up with considerable
force through the sand or gravel in the bottom of the spring. Great
spring, in Blind Hole swamp, Danvers, rises through eight feet of peat,
sometimes bringing to the surface pebbles an inch in diameter. The
water in these springs is always soft, and percolates through sand and
gravel soils from a bed-rock of either granite, diorite, granitic gneiss or
metamorphosed slate. There are two or more chalybeate springs in the
County, one of which is at Montserrat, Beverly, and another at the Mineral
Paint mine in Georgetown. The water comes to the surface through
syenite and slate rocks containing masses of iron pyrites, lime, soda,
feldspar, and calcite. These minerals when dissolved furnish the sihca,
carbonate of lime, soda, sulphur, and iron which appear upon analysis.
At Ballardvale, in Andover, is the well-known Ballardvale Lithia spring.
The bed-rock of the region is a coarse granitic white gneiss containing an
abundance of crystals of white lithia mica, which are dissolved by the
carbonic acid in rain-water and little by little impregnate the spring-
The spring-waters in the County are always good and wholesome,
containing only about one part of dissolved mineral substance in every
10,000 parts of the water. In 1903, there were seventeen springs from
which mineral waters were sold for table use, and numerous springs from
which waters were bottled for domestic purposes.
These springs and streams played a very important role in the settle-
Fig. 4.â€” MERRIMAC RIVER AT MITCHELL'S FALLS.
During low water, Oct. 3, 1897.
Fig. 5. -MERRIMAC RIVER AT MITCHELL'S FALLS DURING LOW Vi/ATER, 1897.
Kimball's island at the right.
HH^BH^H^^W f '^S^^^fl
1^^^' .s^,^ "^^^^^^1
Fig. 6.- MOUTH OF THE SPICKET RIVER, LAWRENCE
Fig. 7. â€” SPICKET RIVER BELOVi' THE GLOBE MILLS DAM, LAV^RENCE.
RIVER SYSTEMS 27
ment of the County, for the early settler always chose a site for his house
near a spring. As a town was formed, the burial-ground, the meeting-
house, the school-house, and the townhouse were usually built upon a sandy
waste or a sand-plain where the soil was poor and unfit for cultivation and
in time such locations became proverbial. Later, with the introduction of
aqueduct water, these sand-plains became the sites of villages surrounding
the public buildings.
Drainage and Formation of Valley Systems. â€” In the Cambrian, Pre-
Cambrian and Archean periods, the longer axes of all of the crystalline
rocks were formed approximately in the line of strike of the Archean
gneissic and the Cambrian sedimentary rocks. This trend is northeast
to north, and southwest, and the principal streams and their valleys
accordingly follow this general course. The younger or consequent stream
valleys are those which cut across the strike of these gneisses and sedi-
River Systems. â€” The principal river systems in the County, with
valleys of the extended type, are as follows :
First : the Merrimac, an extended stream which takes its course across
West Andover to Lawrence, Bradford and Haverhill. (See Figs. 2, 3, 4, 5.)
From thence in its flow to tide-water it very nearly follows a northeasterly
course, being deflected occasionally by hard dike rocks which cut across
the stratified beds. At Amesbury, the Powow river, a consequent stream,
empties into the Merrimac at Salisbury Point. The Merrimac is here
forced to cut its channel southeasterly to avoid a massive outcrop of
porphyritic granite, while along its southern bank there is a line of con-
tact of the Cambrian sediments and the quartz augite diorite rocks ex-
tending to the mouth of the river.
Second; the Shawsheen river, a consequent stream of somewhat ex-
tended type, which flows its entire course, a distance of twenty-five miles,
northeasterly from the town of Lincoln, in Middlesex County, to South
Lawrence, where it empties into the Merrimac.
Third: the Spicket river, also a consequent stream, which is the outlet
of Youth's pond and Mystic pond in Methuen. (See Figs. 6, 7.) It flows
northeasterly across the northern part of Methuen, then south-southeast-
erly to Mystic pond, and then meanders in a southeasterly course across
the southern part of Methuen to the city of Lawrence, there flowing along
the strike of the metamorphosed slate beds to the Merrimac river.
Fourth: the Ipswich river, which is of the extended type and rises in
the meadows of Wilmington and Burlington, winds its course in a north-
28 RIVER SYSTEMS
easterly direction through meadows in the line of strike of the Cambrian
limestone slates and conglomerates in the town of Reading and then
through Middleton and Topsfield to tide-water at Ipswich. (See Figs. 8, 9.)
The Parker river is also of the extended type. It is the outlet of
Chadwick's pond in West Boxford and flows southerly and then north-
easterly through Georgetown, West Newbury, and Newbury, at last empty-
ing into Plum Island river.
Essex river, the outlet of the Chebacco lakes, is an extended stream
that rises in East Wenham and flows toward the northeast, draining the
whole region of East Hamilton, Manchester, and Essex. On this stream
there is a twenty-foot fall known as Essex Falls, where there is a sawmill.
Other consequent streams are :
Miles river, the outlet of Wenham lake, and Pleasant pond brook, the
outlet of Pleasant pond. Both flow north and northeast and empty into
the Ipswich river at Hamilton and Ipswich. Black brook, the outlet
from Cutler's pond, flows northerly, and after many meanderings also
empties into the Ipswich river at Hamilton.
Nichols' brook, in Danvers, drains Bishop's and Peters' meadows and
flows northeasterly through Middleton to Topsfield where it empties into
the Ipswich river.
Beaver brook, in West Newbury, flows southerly and southeasterly
across the town, east of Crane Neck hill, and empties into the Parker river.
Mill creek, the dividing line between Rowley and Newbury, at the
beginning of its flow is known as the Great Swamp brook, but at South
Georgetown it is called Mill river. Its course is southeasterly for the first
mile and then northeasterly for a distance of eight miles to Dummer's
mill. With several wide detours it then flows northeasterly and empties
into the Parker river.
Bull brook, rises from a series of springs in Pine swamp, Ipswich, and
flows northeasterly through the town of Rowley into Rowley river.
Boston brook, rises in Andover and flows three miles in a southeasterly
direction, then turns toward the north for a mile, and then to the south-
east, flowing four miles in this course with several wide meanders, to
Middleton where it empties into the Ipswich river.
Mosquito brook also starts from a spring in Andover on the westerly
side of Woodchuck hill, and after flowing about five miles in a northeasterly
course empties into Fish brook, which flows through Boxford toward the
southeast in a winding course and empties into the Ipswich river at Tops-
Fig. 8. â€”IPSWICH RIVER AT THE MIDDLETON PAPER MILL DAM.
p,g. 9â€” IPSWICH RIVER IN MIDDLETON.
As seen from the bridge on the Danvers road.
RIVER SYSTEMS 33
Hewlett's brook and Mile brook flow from springs in Boxford and
follow a southeasterly course into Topsfield where they empty into the
The stream which forms the outlet for Cape pond, at Rockport, flows
southwesterly across Gloucester and empties into Mill river at Willowdale
in Gloucester. Another brook which rises in a swamp at Rockport near
the Boston and Maine Railroad station, flows northeasterly through the
village of Rockport where, south of King street, it forms a pond on which
ice is cut for domestic purposes. This brook empties into the sea at
Sandy Bay, there showing that the tilt of the granite anticline, on the
extreme point of Cape Ann, is toward the northeast.
All of these consequent streams are of sluggish flow with very slight
fall and meander through swamps, meadows, and old ponds in wide valleys
South of Essex County, in Middlesex County, the Concord and Sud-
bury rivers flow north to northeast and empty into the Merrimac river at
Lowell, also demonstrating that the slope or tilting of the land surface
of Essex County and the northern part of Middlesex County is toward the
north and northeast. This is in an opposite direction from the supposed
slope of the land south of Cape Cod and also in the Connecticut river
valley. The northeasterly to southwesterly valleys of the Concord,
Shawsheen, Ipswich, and Merrimac river systems signify that they flow
in a series of broadly sweeping synclinal folds of the old Archean gneissic
rocks and Cambrian sediments. Measurements across the upturned edges
of the Cambrian rocks found in Essex County prove that they were over
10,000 feet thick, and if reconstructed would form mountains fully two
miles in height over our granite syenite and other igneous rocks. (See
Fig. 10.) To quote from Professor Van Hise, in his "Principles of North
American Pre-Cambrian Geology" : ^ "It has been shown that at a depth of
30,000 feet, more or less, even the strongest rocks must find relief from
stress by flow, and hence below that depth there must be a zone, which,
as respects its manner of deformation, may be called a zone of flow." If
this statement of Professor Van Hise is correct, very probably this depth
to the zone of flow may have been under our Cambrian rocks which are
now near the present surface. Should this be the case, the flow and
crumpling of the granite gneiss and foliated quartz diorites, which is to
be seen in the central part of the County, may have been formed in this
zone of flow beneath the Archean and Cambrian sediments, which were
' i6th Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey, Pt. I, pp. 594-598.
34 SURFACE FEATURES
base-levelled or cut down to the level of the sea long before the Tertiary-
uplift which ushered in the Quaternary or Pleistocene period.
Surface Features. â€” Essex County, and indeed the whole of eastern
Massachusetts, has an uneven surface with numerous outcropping ledges
of bed-rock which are either base-levelled or have an elevation varying
from fifty to one hundred feet above mean sea-level. The summits of
these elevations are bare or have but a slight covering of soil. There are
a few higher elevations of bed-rock rising to about two hundred feet in
height and known as " Monadnocks." Such isolated peaks are remnants
of the hard rocks of an ancient Peneplain, which have withstood the erosive
forces which have cut down and produced the valleys between them.
The Cambrian rocks are in part base-levelled. They are usually seen
in the bottoms of valleys, or, at some contact with later intrusive rocks,
which have turned the Cambrian sedimentary beds upon their edges so
that they now stand nearly vertically. In the valleys away from such
contact, they are found to dip at an angle of from 40Â° to 48Â°. These
rocks invariably contain fossil Hyolithes. A study of the Cambrian rocks
leads to the conclusion that this region was not coastal at the opening of
the Olenellus Lower Cambrian epoch as these fossiliferous rocks are found
in the bed of the sea as far out as Jeffrey's bank which is fifty miles from
the present shore-line. It is also well known that they occur beyond
Cape Sable off the coast of Nova Scotia.
Peat Deposits. â€” Deposits of peat occur in nearly every town in the
County and more particularly in Danvers, Middleton, Topsfield, Boxford,
Georgetown, and Wenham. From a careful examination it is estimated
that over 21,000 acres of peat may be found in Essex County exclusive
of the submerged deposits below sea-water at high tide. The great Wen-
ham swamp covers an area of some two thousand acres, nearly all of which
is a forest-grown peat deposit from nine to eleven feet in thickness. At
the Longham basin, an artificial feeder of Wenham lake, the peat was
found to be over fifteen feet in thickness. The deposits surrounding the
ponds at Legg's hill are eleven feet deep, and in various parts of the County
they are found to be from five to nine feet in thickness. If this peat were
made into coke it would supply fuel of excellent quality and of great
value for domestic use, and as these deposits are continually being formed,
an almost inexhaustible supply is always available for local use.
Geological Distribution of Plants. â€” Certain plants have their highest
development on certain kinds of soil and are dependent upon the chemical
character of the bed-rock of the region in which they are found growing.
Fig. II.â€” CHESTNUT TREES (CASTANEA AMERICANA!.
Growing upon hornblende granite soil on the Burley farm, Danvei
Fig. 12. â€” BEDDED SLATES AND LIMESTONES AT EAST POINT, NAHANT.
Fig, 13, â€” HORNBLENDE GRANITE HEADLAND AT EASTERN POINT, GLOUCESTER,
GEOLOGICAL DISTRIBUTION OF PLANTS 39
The rock formation possessing the largest percentage of silica, with an
alkali, potash, alumina feldspar, such as the hornblende granite, produces
finer specimens of certain kinds of plants than will grow upon rocks hav-
ing a lime, soda, alumina feldspar, composition such as the hornblende
dorite or the augite syenite. The latter is a rock with a low silica ratio,
but having a soda, lime, potash, alumina feldspar, and when in contact
with hornblende granite, it is difficult to distinguish the one from the
other. The feldspars in the two rocks, however, are chemically quite
distinct and a marked change occurs in plants growing on the two forma-
tions, even in limited areas such as points of contact. To illustrate â€”
at the comer of Essex and Grapevine streets. East Wenham, on the
Rubbly hills, which are augite syenite, the red cedar, Juniperus Virgin-
iana, grows equally as well as on the hornblende diorite areas where it
has its greatest development. On the hornblende granite formation at
the north and east of the Rubbly hill area, the red cedar is never found
Lime or calcite is a common constituent of many slates, as well as in
the diorite rocks, and in the flora of lime-rock soils a marked change is
noticed from that found upon rock formations that are rich in silica.
This is also true of alkali, potash, alumina bed-rock, whether it be granite
or volcanic aporhyolite. The common rue anemone, Syndesmon thalic-
troides, is abundant on the hornblende diorite slate and limestone areas,
but it is rarely found growing in the hornblende granite soils. Anemone
riparia is also common on the lime, slate, and diorite soils in Topsfield and
Boxford, but is unknown on the acid hornblende granite soils. Pink
corydalis, Corydalis glauca, is a common plant fotmd growing on nearly bare
hornblende granite ledges, but it is unknown on the diorite or limestone
areas in the County. The round-leaved violet, Viola rotundifoUa, is occa-
sionally found growing on granite areas, but never on the diorites or lime-
stones. The tick-trefoils, Desmodiuwi, are common plants in the woods
on the augite syenite, diorite, slate, and limestone formations, but are
very rarely found on the granite areas. Dwarf cherry, Prunus pumila,
grows abundantly on the granite soil in South Peabody, but is unknown
on syenite or diorite soils. The three-toothed cinquefoil, Potentilla tri-
dentata, may be seen growing in the granite soil at Gloucester and Rock-
port. It is rare, however, in the syenite soils and is unknown in the
Bristly sarsaparilla, Aralia hispida, grows in great abundance in the
granite soils, but is rare or unknown on the diorite areas. Red-berried
40 GEOLOGICAL DISTRIBUTION OF PLANTS
elder, Samhucus puhens, is common at Gloucester and Rockport on granite,
but is rare on syenite and unknown on the diorite areas. The blue-stemmed
golden-rod, Solidago ccesia, is common on granite and aporhyolite areas
and rare on diorite, while showy golden-rod, Solidago speciosa, is common
on diorite and syenite areas and rare in the granite regions. The yellow
thistle, Cnicus horridulum, is common at Rockport on the hornblende
granite and imknown on the diorite. The cowberry, Vaccimum vitis-
idcea, is only found growing on diorite and slate regions in Danvers and
Topsfield. The bearberry, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, is common in the
granite soil of Peabody, Beverly, Manchester, and Rockport, but is un-
known in the diorite or lime-slate localities. Red cedar, Juniperus Vir-
giniana, and low juniper, Juniperus communis, are both very common on
the diorite, augite syenite, and lime-slate areas in all parts of the County
from Saugus to Rockport, and northwesterly to Methuen, but the first
has never been observed upon a hornblende granite area. Black Ash,
Fraxinus sanibucifoUa; white cedar, Chamcecyparis spharoidea; hobble-
bush. Viburnum, lantanoides; red maple, Acer rubrum; and white maple,
Acer dasycarpum, all grow almost exclusively on peat and river-silt
soils and are not affected by bed-rock soils. Many other plants are com-
mon to one kind of soil, which apparently seems due to the chemical
character of the bed-rock.
Fig. 14.â€” GAP HEAD AND STRAITSMOUTH ISLAND. ROCKPORT.
Showing an augite syenite contact with liornblende granite.
â€” â€” -_- â–
~â€” - .
' _, â–
Fig. 15. â€” SQUAM RIVER FROM WEST GLOUCESTER.
Showing tidal marshes.
Fig. 16 â€”TIDAL MARSH AT ROWLEY.
View from the railroad at high tide; Plum island in the distan
Fig. 17. â€” LAGOON WEST OF JEFFREY'S NECK, IPSWICH.
Showing tidal marsh and drumlins in the distance.
Rocky Headlands. â€” The bedded sedimentary slates and limestones of
East point, Nahant, show somewhat rectangular outlines while the massive
crystalline igneous intrusive rocks at Little Nahant, and elsewhere on
the coast, assume particularly rugged, broken, and bizarre forms among