Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 82.djvu/284

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280
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

THE SWEDEN VALLEY ICE MINE AND ITS EXPLANATION
By MARLIN O. ANDREWS
LEHIGH UNIVERSITY, SOUTH BETHLEHEM, PA.

THE Sweden Valley Ice Mine, one of the unexplained mysteries of nature, is located about four miles east of Coudersport, the county seat of Potter County, Pa. A similar phenomenon is situated on Dingman Run, about three miles west of Coudersport. These are natural ice-manufacturing plants, running under full head during the warm season of the year, but shutting down entirely during the cold months of winter, when there is plenty of ice and snow to be had elsewhere and when it would seem to be the most natural time for the formation of ice at these places.

To learn something of the history of the Sweden Valley Ice Mine we must go back to the time when the Indians were the chief inhabitants of this particular section of the country.

A certain tribe knew the location of deposits of silver and lead, which they carefully guarded against discovery both by other bands of Indians and by the few white settlers in that vicinity. As the whites became more numerous the Indians were driven farther west, taking their mineral secrets with them, as well as the scalp of one white hunter who accidentally discovered one of their lead mines. For years accounts of these mines were handed down from one generation to another, until, having become partially civilized, the Indians returned to recover, if possible, some of their lost wealth. They came in bands of five or six and searched the country thoroughly in the vicinity of Coudersport and Sweden Valley, but without success. The country had been so changed by the advance of civilization that they were unable to follow the directions given them by their ancestors and were finally obliged to abandon the undertaking.

These strange, unexplained actions on the part of the Indians naturally aroused considerable curiosity among the residents. They surmised that the Indians were searching for minerals, and the ground was again thoroughly gone over, but with no better success.

A year or so later, in 1894 or 1895, a Cataraugus Indian came to Coudersport, got a lunch and walked off into the woods. After some time he returned with some fine specimens of silver ore which he exhibited to the amazed loungers who gathered around him. He then disappeared without telling any one where he was from, where he secured the ore or where he was going.

The result of this visit was only natural. Silver mining was the