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BOOK OF THE UNITED STATES.

PART I.

PHYSICAL

GEOGRAPHY.

CHAPTER 1.-MOUNTAINS.

Though embracing in its extent several elevated ranges of great length and breadth, the territory of the United States cannot be considered as a mountainous country. The land along the whole line of the seacoast is level for a considerable distance into the interior. The breadth of this level tract expands from fifty miles in the north-east extremity, gradually, as we advance to the south-west, till in the state of Georgia, it has attained an extent of near two hundred miles. Beyond this the land gradually rises into mountains, which are much more remarkable for their length and breadth, than their height. They sometimes consist of numerous parallel ridges rising successively behind each other; at other times they run into knots ; and sometimes they recede from their parallel direction into what are called spurs. These ranges or belts of mountainous country, though receiving a vast number of different appellations, are most usually known by the name of the Alleghanies. The long continuity of this chain has obtained it the name of the Endless Mountains, from the northern savages. The French and Spaniards, who first became acquainted with it in Florida, applied to it through its whole extent the name of Apalachian, which is still retained by a considerable river of that country.

The general course of the Alleghanies is about north-east and southe west ; east of the Hudson they are scattered in irregular groups, without any very marked direction.

The range of the Rocky or Chippewan Mountains divides the waters which flow east into the Missouri and Mississippi, from those which flow west into the Pacific Ocean, and are a continuation of the Cordilleras of Mexico. Their longitude is about one hundred and twelve west, and they terminate in about seventy north latitude. Along the coast of the Pacific is another range which seems to form a step to the Rocky Mountains. It extends from the Cape of California along the coast to Cook's Inlet, generally rising to no great height in the southern portion. In the northern part, La Perouse states that it is ten thousand feet high, and at its northern extremity is Mount Elias, eighteen thousand feet high, and the loftiest peak of North America.

The White Mountains in New England, largely considered, are the principal ranges running north-east and south-west, projecting from the main ridge that forms the boundary of the United States, and separates the waters of the St. Lawrence from those that run south through the Northern States. The highest ridge is that called the White Mountain Ridge in New Hampshire, running from south to north, the loftiest sum

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White Mountains. mits of which are Monadnock, a hill of an abrupt and striking character, Sunapee, Kearsarge, Carr's Mountain, and Moosehillock. Towards the north of the state, these eminences rise to a much higher elevation, and are known specifically by the name of the White Mountains.

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White Mountains These are the loftiest mountains in the United States, east of the Mississippi. They lie between the Connecticut and Androscoggin rivers op the north-east and west, and the head-waters of the Merrimack on the south sixty or seventy miles from the coast; yet their white summits

are visible from many miles at sea. They extend about twenty miles from south-west to north-east, and their base is eight or ten miles broad.

Mount Washington is the highest of all the White Mountains, being • six thousand two hundred and thirty-four feet above the level of the sea. Next to Mount Washington in height is Mount Adams, then Jefferson, then Madison, all more than five thousand feet high; there are several besides these, though none so elevated. The country around and among the mountains is very wild and rough, and the mountains themselves are difficult of access. The east side of Mount Washington rises at an angle of forty-five degrees. The lower part of the mountain is covered with thick woods of spruce and fir trees, with deep beds of moss beneath. Heavy clouds of vapor often rest upon the mountain, and fill the moss with water, which cannot be exhaled or dried up by the sun on account of the woods, and therefore it breaks out in numerous springs which feed the streams from the mountain. The trees are short and stunted higher up the mountain ; soon there are only bushes; then instead of bushes are vines; the last thing that. grows is winter grass mixed with moss; the summit is entirely bare of vegetation. There is a plain from which the last height of Mount Washington rises to the height of fifteen hundred feet. This elevation or pinnacle is composed of huge grey rocks. Reaching the top much fatigued and out of breath, the traveller is instantly master of a boundless prospect, noble enough to pay him for his labor. The Atlantic dimly seen through a distance of sixty-five miles, the Vermont Mountains on the west, the southern and northern mountains of New Hampshire, Lake Winnipiseogee, ponds, streams, and towns, without number, all form a great impressive picture.

The road from the seacoast to the mountains passes along the head stream of the Saco, which rises among these mountains, and breaks through them at a place known by the name of the Notch, a narrow defile extending two miles in length between two large cliffs, apparently rent asunder by some vast convulsion of nature.

* The sublime and awful grandeur of this passage baffles all description. Geometry may settle the heights of the mountains ; and numerical figures may record the measure; but no words can tell the emotions of the soul, as it looks upward, and views the almost perpendicular precipices which line the narrow space between them ; while the senses ache with terror and astonishment, as one sees himself hedged in from all the world besides. He may cast his eye forward or backward, or to either side; he can see only upward, and there the diminutive circle of his vision is cribbed and confined by the battlements of nature's cloud-capped towers,' which seem as if they wanted only the breathing of a zephyr, or the wafting of a straw against them, to displace them, and crush the prisoner in their iall. Just before our visit to this place, on the 26th of June, 1826, there was a tremendous avalanche, or slide, as it is there called, from the mountain which makes the southern wall of the passage. An immense mass of earth and rock, on the side of the mountain, was loosened from its resting place, and began to slide towards the bottom. In its course, it divided into three portions, each coming down, with amazing velocity, into the road, and sweeping before it shrubs, trees, and rocks, and filling up the road, beyond all possibility of its being removed. With great labor, a pathway has been made over these fallen masses, which admits

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