Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/544

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530
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE SALT-DEPOSITS OF WESTERN NEW YORK.
By FREDERIC G. MATHER.

WYOMING County, in the State of New York, is bounded on the southeast by the wonderful gorge that has made famous the mighty leaps of the Genesee River at Portage. A few miles to the north is the plateau which holds the crystal waters of Silver Lake; while still farther to the north and west rise the head-waters of Oatka Creek, which flows in a northeasterly direction through the county of Genesee, and empties into the river of that name just before it comes to Rochester. The Oatka was formerly called Allen's Creek, after a resolute pioneer. The valley and the county were named Wyoming, from a striking similarity to the valley in Pennsylvania which once received the murderous visit of the savage, and which has been immortalized in the verse of Campbell. Warsaw, the shire-town of Wyoming, most romantically situated near the source of the creek, was called by the Indians "Chinose-heh-geh," or "on the side of the valley." The village of to-day numbers but twenty-five hundred inhabitants, although the region all about has been settled nearly one hundred years, and although a prominent railroad skirts the valley on either edge. All about is a most excellent farming-land, second only to the Genesee Valley. The butter and cheese are of the best quality, and they find a ready sale in Buffalo or in Rochester, either metropolis being less than fifty miles away. This valley, hitherto so peaceful, is now the center of a business activity that bids fair to be permanent, and that will reduce by one the number of staple articles for which the United States has hitherto depended upon foreign countries.

Over forty years ago extensive surveys were made from Oswego to Niagara, and salt-springs were found in many places. In the hollows toward Lake Ontario the brine was discovered in such quantities as to make unnecessary any additional salting of the cattle that were pastured in the vicinity. It was also discovered that salt might be found at the south of this belt, but not without considerable boring. No one, however, suspected that the valley would yield salt as far up as Warsaw. Therefore, when the Vacuum Oil Company, of Rochester, commenced to bore for oil at Wyoming, just north of Warsaw, the enterprise was thought to be only a natural extension of the oil-fields of Pennsylvania, which lie fifty miles or so to the southward. The man who directed the boring had been a boy in the Wyoming Valley, and he had enough faith in the existence of oil to lease the neighboring farms for ninety-nine years, with the agreement that he would put down a test-well; that, if successful, a well should go down on every man's farm; and that the owner of the farm should have one eighth of the product in every case. Oil was not found, but brine came up in sufficient quantities to show that the salt was there. The treasure was