Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

that I put out for the open sea, remembering the horrible pit and miry clay, was a caution! I had to get some distance beyond the line of Black Rock before I found water over my head. At that time I had no idea of what a shallow puddle the Great Salt Lake was. I thought, as I suppose most people do, that it was at least a thousand feet deep in the middle, and shelved off rapidly from the bold limestone precipices which wall it at Black Rock. Instead of that, it is almost everywhere bordered by shallows, reaching from a hundred rods to several miles from the shore; and the very deepest place found by that most minute and painstaking of hydrographers, Captain Stansbury, after innumerable soundings in every direction throughout the lake, was only thirty-five feet! In some portions of the lake, many miles from either shore, I might have swam for half a day without getting beyond my depth.

In common with all travellers, I experienced the most curious sensations of over-buoyancy. Without special effort, it was impossible to keep myself under sufficiently to have it feel like swimming, and not like lying on a sort of India rubber bed, where I made no break, but only a dent in some elastic substance which sprung under me. When I trod water, my bust emerged to considerably below the armpits; when I lay prone or on my back, so much of the uppermost surface was exposed that I had to change my position frequently, in order to keep myself uniformly wet, so as not to be scorched by the perpendicular rays of the midsummer sun. It would be a splendid place for a swimming-school. No confidence need be taught there—nothing but the motions. And a more delightful gamboling-place cannot be imagined. I was always passionately fond of swimming; apd after my long, dry, dusty ride across the plains and mountains, where I had enjoyed no bath with ample room to disport myself, or indeed any swim at all since I ducked in the crystal flood of the "Fonten-kee-booyeh " at the base of Pike's Peak, it may be conceived that I rioted in the bracing blue brine of Utah with a perfect boyish delight. I could scarcely bear to leave it, even to the dinner for which my clamber and my swim had procured me an appetite as boyish. I stayed in till all the rest of my party had gone out, then, lying flat on my back, with my head to the land and perfectly motionless, abandoned myself to the cradling motion of the long ground-swells, trusting to a breeze which blew directly on shore to waft me gently thitherward. The breeze did as I expected. !• drifted in very rapidly and so comfortably that I could have lain on my soft couch and slept all day. Presently I put down my hand to turn over, intending to swim the rest of the way ashore face forward. My palm instantly touched bottom, and I found that I had floated so far land-ward that I was in water only six inches deep! The fact that a craft of a full-grown man's draught of water no more touched bottom in a shoal like that than in mid-ocean, is the best illustration I can give of the remarkable density and lifting power of the Salt Lake water. Glad to have been saved the greater part of my return journey through the dumping-ground of dead gallinippers, I scrambled to my feet, and picked my way over the daggery beach to the kitchen with no worse result than a heelbruise. I had from hearsay some idea of the incrustations of salt which appear on every bather in Salt Lake when he comes out, but was not at all prepared for the

reality. The evaporation taking place while I walked the trifling distance across the beach to the house, was sufficient to turn me into a pillar of salt, or, as an old Mormon called it, to "Lotswificate" me. From head to foot, almost without a break, I was covered with a crystalline film, white as leprosy, and the thickness of ordinary stove-door isinglass. I had been a . Nazarene ever since leaving New York; and the effect of my long hair and full beard with the salt dried into them was very like that of the grasses which country ladies amuse themselves by vitrifying with saturated solutions of alum, giving me the appearance of a shaggy Triton wreathed with sea-weed and crystals. In the kitchen I found that very necessary conclusion to a Salt Lake swim, a wash-tub full of fresh water, and, jumping into that, divested myself of my acrid exuvice. The sensation of getting off the salt was very grateful, for, as I got drier, it made my skin feel absolutely thirsty like a tongue; indeed, a smarting, burning sensation lingered in my pores to a greater or less degree all day; and I could not help fancying that it made my fauces dry as well as my skin, producing by absorption an internal thirst corresponding to the outer one. This is not to be wondered at when we consider the great affinity of salt for the fluids of the body, the activity of all the absorbent surfaces in Bummer, and the intense brininess of the lake as revealed by the analyses made during Stansbury's expedition. The brine of Salt Lake, in point of density, has but one known superior on the globe—the waters of the Dead Sea. In a hundred parts by weight, the latter contain 24.580 of solid contents, and the former 22.422. The solid contents were constituted in the following proportions : —

Chloride of sodium 20.196

Sulphate of soda 1.884

Chloride of magnesium 0.252

Chloride of calcium (a trace) and waste . . 0.140

22.422

(The specimen brought home by Captain Stansbury to be subjected to Dr. Gale's analysis was too small to be examined with reference to any other components than those here stated, and omits consideration of all gaseous matters held in solution by the Salt Lake waters, which are likely to be considerable, especially along the shore, where decay of organic bodies is constantly going on, and sulphide of hydrogen may naturally be looked for. Still, for all practical purpose, the analysis is abundantly precise.)

The waters of the Dead Sea are much weaker in chloride of sodium, and much stronger in chloride of magnesium; containing in their 24.580 of solid contents only 10.360 of the former, but 10.246 of the latter, while their chloride of calcium amounts to 3.920 parts, and their sulphate of soda to 0.054. The Salina salt wells are the strongest in the States, and the maximum yield of their brine is about 17-y per cent. in solid salt. That of the Salt Lake brine is about 20 per cent. It will be seen that although the density of the Dead Sea water is about two per .cent. greater, its per cent. of chloride of sodium is only about one half, and thus the waters of Salt Lake are by nearly three per cent, the strongest natural brine in the world. The Mormons avail themselves of it for domestic purposes by the crudest possible processes of manufacture, — or frequently without manufacture of any kind, — collecting it from the rocks, which it incrusts in large quantities, and bringing it to the city by cart-loads. I noticed that on Townsend's table it often seemed singularly damp, considering the dry climate. Dr. Gale explains this fact by the presence of the chlorides of magnesium and calcium, both of which are very deliquescent, and in dissolving extend their deliquative action to the common salt. In any but a new country, where people have enough to do without attending to the extreme refinements of domestic life, the lake salt would be refined, instead of used in its crude state, as it now so generally is. Dr. Gale's method for this purpose is beautifully simple and easy. It consists merely in pouring lake water, either just as it is bailed up or concentrated by boiling, upon a heap of the drying incrustations laid on a blanket or other porous bottom. This water being already a saturated solution of chloride of sodium, or nearly so, will dissolve little or none of that component, but takes up and leaches away all the other chlorides present. After repeating this process three or four times, and allowing the residuary mass to crystallize in the sun, the result is pure enough for all practical purposes. If absolute purity is desired) another filtration, this time fresh water at a temperature of 91^° F. being employed instead of salt, will remove the small per cent, of Glauber-salts still remaining, though its quantity is not sufficient, if left in the table salt, to produce any cathartic effect.

The road which we had come is one of the emigrant routes to California, leading from Salt Lake City round the northern promontory of the Oquirrh into the Tuilla Valley, past the range forming that valley's western wall, which sinks to the level of the lake at a considerable distance from its shore, instead

« ZurückWeiter »