BY PROF. J. PIKE, M. A.*
About two-thirds of the area of this county is prairie; the northern part being flat, or very gently undulating, and possessing a rich soil.
The principal streams are the Little Wabash river and the Kaska skia; the former running through the south-eastern portion of the county, the latter and its tributaries being in the central and western portions.
Among the less important streams are Green, Mitchell's, Beck's, Robinson's, and Mud creeks, the l ast two being sluggish streams, with muddy banks, flanked by wide bottoms, and low hills, whose height does not exceed fifty feet.
The hills along the Kaskaskia are generally about seventy feet high, and the country, back from the river for a dista nce varying rom a half mile to a mile, is rather broken. The bottoms vary in width from a quarter of a mile to three-quarters of a mile.
The timber on the ridges, hills, and uplands is chiefly white oak, black-oak, shell-bark, hickory, burr-oak, an d sassafras, while the bottoms produce pine, oak, elm, ash, hackberry, buckeye, maple, and sugar tree.
The river bottoms and the adjacent hills afford an abundant supply of good timber.
* For some of the data in the preparation of this chapter, we are indebted to the State Geological reports of Prof. A. H. Worthen, its editor.
Quaternary - In digging a well on the Kaskaskia bottom, two miles below the mou th of Jordan's creek, the first five feet were found to be soil and dark clay, and the next eleven feet sandy material containing some pebbles.
The Shelbyville hills show about fifty feet of sand and clay, on which are found rounded pebbles of mica , slate, sienite of various colors, several kinds of granite (including graphic granite), quartzite, greenstone, and chert.
Three miles above Shelbyville, a drift bluff is exposed, at an old well, and shows sand and pebbles partially united, formin g disconnected layers of firmly cemented conglomerate.
On the Wabash, below the forks, the drift exhibits about twelve feet of chocolate and buff colored clays, the lower part being sandy and containing a few small pebbles.
A well on J. Gallaghe r's farm was dug to a depth of seventy-two feet, the first thirty-eight feet being through clay. At that depth was found muddy sand, in which were leaves, sticks, and one log. From the depth of fifty-two feet to seventy-two feet, the well was bored th rough sand to a stiff clay.
Coal Measures - About 175 feet of the upper Coal Measures appear in this county, and in the whole thickness there are only two workable coals, grades No. 14 and No. 15, numbered 16 and 8, respectively, in the followi ng condensed sections of the various beds:
Four miles north-east of Shelbyville, on the river, are f ound about four feet of limestone, the upper part of which is sometimes shaly and fossiliferous, containing Spiriferina, Kentuckiensis, Spirifer lineatus, spirifer cameratus, Productus punctatus, Athyris subtilita, Hemipronites crassus, and crinoid stems. The lower part contains very few fossils.
Just beneath the fire clay, in the same vicinity, are found 20 feet of sandy shales, and occasionally along the river there are beds of buff sandstone, which make the entire thickness of sandstone and shales (No. 3) amount to 30 feet. In No. 4, which is a tough and very coarse dark gray limestone, are found the fossils, Myalina subquadruta, Pinna per-accuta, Prattenianus, Nautilus occidentalis, Allorisma subcuneata, Aviculopecten occidentalis.
About five miles up the Kaskaskia river from Shelbyville, No. 4, is found sticking out of the river bank, three feet above low water, is easily recognized, and affords good fossils. Below the limestone just mentioned, and including Nos. 5, 6 and 7, there are about 96 feet of sandy and argillaceous shale sandstone, and argillaceous limestone, with calcareous and bituminous shale. The upper part is principally argillaceous shale, but the lower part consists of beds that are not at all persistent. Near th e railroad, one mile west of Robinson's creek, the argillaceous shale is 30 feet thick; its beds are very irregular, and the fracture is conchoidal and smooth. The thinner beds are shaly.
The sandstone (No. 6) also is changeable. Sometimes it is abs ent entirely, its place being occupied by sandy shales, as on the Little Wabash river; at others, it is a thin-bedded sandstone. Two miles south-east of Shelbyville, it changes rapidly to a shale, again to a sandstone, and again, back to a shale. Someti mes it rests on the coal, then again it is separated from the coal by bituminous shales, which begin at 0, and rapidly increase to a thickness of l 1/2 feet.
At Lilly's mill, a calcareous shale overlies the coal which in a distance of 200 feet thicken s from 0 to 3 feet; it is divided, after running a short distance, by 2 feet of clay shale, and the upper part becomes a firm bed of limestone. But few fossils are found in these beds, the most important being Sigillariae and Calamites, in the sandstone, and Cordaites, in the shales.
The fossils in the calcareous shales are much crushed, still the following can be distinguished; Athyris subtdita, Spirifer Kentuckiensis, Prod. Pratteaianus, and Bryozoa.
An examination of the outcrops of coal in v arious places gives the following sections, from which may be seen the changeable character of the adjacent rocks:
On Copperas creek west of Nioga, at J. Young's coal bank:
At Lilly's mill, in section. 1, T. 9 N., R. 3 E., the following section is shown:
In section 30, T. 12 N., R. 3 E, on Brush creek:
On Mrs. Sides' land, one and a half miles south o f the railroad,
In the south part of section 2, T. 10 N., R. 1 E.:
Coal Mines - Two coal beds are worked in this county. The upper (grade No. 15), sometimes called the "Shelby coal," var ies in thickness from one and a half to three feet, but is generally about twenty-two inches thick. It is generally a firm, good coal, and is tolerably pure.
The following are the principal places at which it has been worked: J. Young's, in section 2 4, T. 10 N., R. 6 E ; on the west side of Little Wabash river, in the north half of township 10 north; Wm. Rudy's, J. Gallagher's, Henry Allen's on Richland creek; the railroad bank on Brush creek; Elliott's, on the Terre Haute R. R., near Robinson's cre ek station. At Lilly's mill the chance to side drift is very favorable, and there are many places within three miles of the mill at which coal crops out, and is generally easy of access.
The Beck's creek or Pana coal (grade No. 14) has been mined in section 15, T. 9 N., R. 1 E., and in section 31, T. 10 N., R 2 E. At the latter place twenty-one feet of shales and thin bedded sand- stone rest on two feet of bituminous shale at the water's edge, and coal has been taken out of the bed of the creek (Beek 's). Six miles north of this place, the coal appears a few feet above the water in Coal Bank creek.
Building Stone - The varieties of building stone are silicious limestone, argillaceous limestone, and sandstone. The silicious limestone on Co pperas creek is excellent for heavy work. On the west side of the east fork of Little Wabash river, a great deal of sandstone has been quarried for the construction of culverts on the Illinois Central R. R. The stone is hard and irregularly bedded, but i s very durable. Good gray sandstone is quarried for two miles south-east of Shelbyville. Some of the sandstones of this country make very good coarse grindstones. The limestone found on Sand creek and west of the Kaskaskia river four and five miles north east of Shelbyville is superior stone for building purposes - it was used in the construction of the Shelbyville railroad bridge. The deep blue argillaceous limestone west of Robinson's creek is very irregularly bedded, and often has too much clay in its composition to be good for anything but rip-rap and use in common culverts.
Sand and Road Material - Good sand for use in plastering can be procured on Little Wabash and Kaskaskia rivers, on Sand creek and from some of the drift exposures. Th e sands and numerous pebbles found in the drift of this county are good material for the building of roads. The city of Shelbyville is particularly fortunate in having an almost inexhaustible supply of road material conveniently located when she chooses to use it. Good clay for bricks may be found almost anywhere in the county. Limestone good for lime can be procured only on Sand creek and four or five miles above Shelbyville.
Soil and Agriculture - The soil of most of the northern part of t he county is a dark rich loam, and it produces the finest crops of corn to be found in the county, averaging from forty to fifty bushels per acre. South of the Terre Haute railroad and in the southwestern part of the county the soil of the flat prairie a nd timbered lands is thin; on the mound slopes it is very rich and productive. Near Windsor and south and west for six miles the land, prairie and timbered, is rich. The woodland near Flat branch is all good and capable of producing all the crops rai sed in this latitude. Good crops of wheat are raised in most of the northern part of the county and on the timbered lands and mound slopes of the southern part. The general average of fall wheat is twenty to twenty-five bushels per acre.
Water - The people get their supply of water chiefly from wells that vary in depth from 20 feet to 50 feet, the deeper wells being on the hilly lands. Chalybeate springs, some impregnated with sulphur, others quite sweet, are found on the west side of Bec k's creek about a mile and a half north of the south county line. In sections 5 and 6, T. 10 N., R. 3 E,, there is a fresh water lake, Miantonomah, whose surface is almost on a level with the surrounding prairie, and which covers an area of several hun dred acres. Around its margin are many broad leaf water plants, and an abundance of Cephalanthus occidentalis. Lake Emtah, another quite large body of water, is in section 5, T. 9 N., R. 5 E. In the east suburbs of Shelbyville, inexhaustible veins of wa ter are struck at a depth of from 12 to 15 feet. The geological formations, as exhibited in these wells, are found to be very peculiar. At about the depth above indicated, is struck a stratum of quicksand from 5 to 8 feet in thickness, from which pours an abundance of pure, cold sparkling water, which rises in the wells to a height of from 4 to 10 feet. Beneath the quicksand is a bed of hard clay impervious to water. In the central portions of the city water is difficult to find at any depth, while o n the west side of the city it is reached at about the same depth as on the east side.
GEOLOGY OF MOULTRIE COUNTY
Geologically, the surface of this county, to the unskilled observer, presents a tame and uninteresting app earance; but to one who can see "books in running streams, and sermons in stones," it is eloquent in language that thrills his heart, and calls forth his best
thoughts. Scattered over some if its surface, lies the boulder drift; especially in the more northern tier of townships are occasionally found huge and lesser fragments of rocks, whose parent beds lie hundreds of miles to the north of Lake Superior, and the great chain of lakes, and which fragments have been ground and transported in the great glaciers from the north-east, which plowed over the surface and planed down the rocks, pulverizing and mixing the debris to form the productive soil the present dw eller finds at his hand and beneath his feet. Fossils that tell of ocean depths and the processes of creation are found permeating the soil in every locality, but all of them of foreign birth -- none of them here in situ. On the bars of the different s treams may be found mollusks, including Unio zigzag, U. dilatata, Alasmodonta truncata, Melania Paludina, Cyclas, etc.
Topography - The prairies are either nearly flat or gently undulating. The timbered land, gradually sloping near the heads o f creeks, becomes more uneven near the main streams. However, there is no extensive tract of broken land. Along the south fork of the Kaskaskia, near the eastern line of the county, the bluffs are often over forty feet high, but for four or five miles d own the stream, are not often over twenty feet high, and spread out into white oak flats. Southwest of Sullivan, the hills are sometimes sixty or eighty feet high, but not very abrupt.
Stratigraphical Geology - The formations in this county c onsist of the quarternary and limited coal measure outcrops. Alluvium. -- This includes the soil, the loose material, and more recent formation along the streams. Below Sullivan, the soil on the south fork of the Kaskaskia bottoms is very sandy, and alo ng the streams there are many sandbars. The sandy bottoms are often covered with a growth of Vernonia fiscuriala. Prof. Worthen, in his geological report on this county, says that three miles south-east of Sullivan, on land of George Purvis, on the wes t bank of the Kaskaskia, he discovered the head of a bison. It measured across the forehead above, the eyes twelve inches; the same between the roots of the horns: the latter were short, thick and slightly curved. The hill above the bank is probably twe nty-five feet high; the bank about eight feet high, forming a narrow bench with the hill, of about ten feet in width; in this bench or terrace a few feet from the top, the skull and part of the cervical bones were found. The surrounding clay was black r ich loam. There were several trees two feet in diameter growing on this terrace.
Drift - The drift is of great depth in this county. At Sullivan, which is about as high ground as any other part of the county, a well was dug 210 feet, and the following stratum was passed through, as reported by Mr. Patterson, who had charge of the digging:
In digging for a well on the south fork of Kaskaskia, below the mouth of Whitley Creek, the following stratum was observed:
Drift boulders of various kinds of metamorphic rocks are often found alone on the prairies, especially in the northern part of the county; four miles north-east of Sullivan there is a boulder of granite 10x5x8 feet, surrounded only by the black prairie soil; how deep it is beneath is not known.
ECONOMICAL GEOLOGY OF MOULTRIE COUNTY
Coal Measures - There have been several efforts to find coal in Moultrie county, but they have proved unsuccessful. Near Sullivan, John Patterson had a well dug 200 feet deep, through drift clays, and struck a soft sandstone, into which he bored 43 feet. This is probably equivalent to No. 1 of the general section of the coal measure rock spoken of in Shelby county. The top of this rock is probably 140 feet above the Shelby coal ( No. I 5). On the South Fork of Kaskaskia, two miles above the junction, the following stratum exists:
Down the river a few miles, in Shelby county, this limestone, (No. 2 of general section), crops out in regular layer s, 4 feet thick. Prof. Worthen, in his report, says that a shaft would have to be sunk about 330 feet at Sullivan, in order to reach coal No. 15, or probably 850 feet to reach coal No. 7.
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