Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/500

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very distant horizon a peak looms up with special prominence, and occasional patches of snow indicate that the mountain crests lie well above the thirteen thousand and fourteen thousand foot line, for below that line, and generally even above it, the lingering winter snows rapidly depart before the summer's heat. The two thousand feet advantage that we possess in the elevation of this region over that of Mount Washington is in no way indicated by the thermometer; an almost subtropical sunshine warms up the open expanse of the Rocky Mountain parks, and with it there are but few reminders of the chilly blasts that habitually sweep over the crests of the White Hills.

Florissant has long been famous with geologists for the wealth of insect remains which its rocks harbor. No other locality of the earth's surface, not even the famous Oeningen beds of Switzerland, has disclosed an insect fauna of equal variety and abundance, or with characters so well preserved as they are here. From butterfly to beetle, wasp, dragon-fly, and ant, almost every type of this great group of animals belonging to the period of the making of the Florissant rock is represented in the soft and thinly bedded shales which here and there force themselves through the not over-luxuriant covering of sward. If, perhaps, the better specimens have by this time been culled by the ever-grasping geological collector, many yet remain, and with rapture the eye follows the marks of hair and exquisite venation which have withstood a time action of perhaps one hundred thousand to two hundred thousand years.

My own purpose in visiting the Florissant Basin during the past summer was less for the study of its extinct animal remains than for inspecting the débris of the wonderful forest which ages ago had undergone its transmutation into stone, and now reads its own history from monuments which are destined to live for equal ages in the future. With me were a number of students, of both sexes, who had determined to share the pleasures and discomforts of camp travel, from canon to mountain peak, and to whom the quasi-luxuriance of the big Rocky Mountain coach was in no way an obstacle. A few hours' easy journey across the Hayden Divide brought us from our quarters at Green Mountain Falls, on the northern shoulder of Pike's Peak, to the land of ancient lake and dead volcano, where, under the kindly guidance of the ranchero and his amiable daughter, we were almost immediately put in sympathetic touch with the relics of departed life.

To the geological mind the Florissant Basin is an ancient silted lake, the waters of which succumbed to that sure infiltration of sediment which marks the beginning and end of nearly all standing bodies of continental waters. In this case, however, it was not the deposition of sediment within the lake by inflowing streams