Hayward’s United States Gazetteer (1853) page 675

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ed their hoary summits cannot realize the extent
and magnificence of the scene. These mountains
are decidedly of primitive formation. Nothing
of volcanic origin has ever yet been discovered,
on the most diligent research. They have for
ages, probably, exhibited the same unvarying
aspect. No minerals are here found of much
rarity or value. The rock which most abounds
is schistus, intermixed with greenstone, mica,
granite, and gneiss. The three highest peaks are
composed entirely of fragments of rocks, heaped
together in confusion, but pretty firmly fixed in
their situations. These rocks are an intermediate
substance between gneiss and micaceous schistus;
they are excessively rough and coarse, and gray,
almost black, with lichens. The mica in them is
abundant, of different colors—red, black, and
limpid ; and, though sometimes several inches in
diameter, yet most often irregularly stratified.
The granite contains emerald, tourmaline, of
which are found some beautiful specimens, and
garnets, besides its proper constituents. Crystals
of quartz, pyrites, actinote, jasper, porphyry,
fluate of lime, and magnetic iron ore are some-
times obtained.    

During nine or ten months of the year, the
summits of the mountains are covered with snow
and ice, giving them a bright and dazzling ap-
pearance. On every side are long and winding
gullies, deepening in their descent to the plains

Here some of the finest rivers of New England
originate. The Saco flows from the east side of
the mountains; the branches of the Androscog-
gin from the north; the Amonoosuck, and other
tributaries of the Connecticut, from the west;
and the Pemigewasset from the south, its foun-
tain being near that of the Saco. The sides of
the hills are, in many parts, covered with soil;
but this is very superficial in all cases, and every
spot that can be reached by running water is left
destitute of every thing but rocks and pebbles,
of which, likewise, the river bottoms are exclu-
sively composed. In these cold and elevated
regions, the period for the growth of vegetables
is extremely brief; the mountains must be for-
ever sterile. Moss and lichens may be found
near the summits, but of a meagre and scanty
growth; looking as if they had wandered from
their proper zone below, into those realms of
barren desolation.

A visit of Mr. Vines to the White Mountains,
described by Winthrop, is worthy of notice. It
was performed in the month of August, 1642, by
him, in company with Thomas Gorges, the dep-
uty governor. Darby Field, who was living at
Exeter, 1639, has the credit of being the first
traveller to these mountains. His journey, also,
is described by Winthrop, who says it was per-
formed in the year 1632. He appears to have
returned by the way of Saco. “ The report he
brought,'' says Winthrop, “ of shining stones, &c.,
caused divers others to travel thither, but they
found nothing worth their pains. Mr. Gorges
and Mr. Vines, two of the magistrates of Sir F.
Gorges' province, went thither about the end of
this month,'' (August.) They set out, probably,
a few days after the return of Field, dazzled by
the visions of diamonds, and other precious min-
erals, with which the fancy of this man had gar-
nished his story. “ They went up Saco River in
birch canoes; and that way they found it 90
miles to Pegwagget, an Indian town, but by land
it is but 60. Upon Saco River they found many
thousand acres of rich meadow, but there are ten
falls, which hinder boats, &c. From the Indian
town they went up hill, (for the most part,) about
30 miles in woody lands ; then they went about
7 or 8 miles upon shattered rocks, without tree
or grass, very steep all the way. At the top is a
plain, about 3 or 4 miles over, all shattered stones;
and upon that is another rock, or spire, about a
mile in height, and about an acre of ground at
the top. At the top of the plain arise four great
rivers, each of them so much water at the first
issue as would drive a mill: Connecticut River
from two heads, at the north-west and south-west,
which join in one about 60 miles off; Saco River
on the south-east; Amascoggin, which runs into
Casco Bay at the north-east; and the Kennebec,
at the north by east. The mountain runs east
and west, 30 or 40 miles, but the peak is above
all the rest. They went and returned in fifteen
days.'' This description of the mountains was
probably communicated by Mr. Vines to Gov-
ernor Winthrop. It conveys a very accurate idea
of them, as they now strike the traveller.

The Notch of the White Mountains is a phrase
appropriated to a very narrow defile, extending
two miles in length, between two huge cliffs, ap-
parently rent asunder by some vast convulsion
of nature, probably that of the deluge. The
entrance of the chasm on the east side is formed
by two rocks, standing perpendicular, at the dis-
tance of 22 feet from each other; one about 20
feet in height, the other about 12. The road
from Lancaster to Portland passes through this
notch, following the course of the head stream
of the Saco.

The scenery at this place is exceedingly beau-
tiful and grand. The mountain, otherwise a con-
tinued range, is here cloven quite down to its
base, opening a passage for the waters of the
Saco. The gap is so narrow, that space has with
difficulty been found for the road. About half a
mile from the entrance of the chasm is seen a
most beautiful cascade, issuing from a mountain
on the right, about 800 feet above the subjacent
valley, and about two miles distant. The stream
passes over a series of rocks, almost perpendicu-
lar, with a course so little broken as to preserve
the appearance of a uniform current, and yet so
far disturbed as to be perfectly white. This
beautiful stream, which passes down a stupendous
precipice, is called by Dwight the
Silver Cascade.
It is probably one of the most beautiful in the

At the distance of three fourths of a mile from
the entrance of the chasm is a brook, called the
Flume, which falls from a height of 240 or 250
feet, over three precipices ; down the first two in
a single current, and over the last in three, which
unite again at the bottom, in a small basin, formed
by the hand of nature in the rocks. The water
is pure and transparent, and it would be impossi-
ble for a brook of its size to be modelled into
more diversified or delightful forms.

It is by no means strange that the unlettered
Indian fancied these regions to be the abodes of
celestial beings; while the scholar, without a
stretch of fancy, in calling to mind the mythol-
ogy of Greece, might find here a fit place for the
assemblies and sports of the Dryads, Naiads, and

Avalanches, or slides, from the mountains. Oj
the 28th of August, 1826, there occurred one ot

A Gazetteer of the United States of America by John Hayward.

Hartford, CT: Case, Tiffany and Company. 1853. Public domain

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