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September 13, 1861: Danville

September 13, 2011

Danville 03

San Ramon Valley Historical Museum, Danville; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Camp 53

[Today], we went up the San Ramon Valley about twelve miles, and left our party to camp, while we pushed up the valley, then climbed the hill, 2,500 or 2,800 feet high, where we had an extensive and comprehensive view. Mount Diablo was the grandest object in the landscape. I will not attempt a description of the view, but cannot pass over some geological facts.

Rock City 01

Sandstone at Rock City, Mount Diablo State Park; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

The strata here are all filled with shells and are of enormous thickness. They are turned up at high angles and much broken. The whole country is of mountains 2,000 to 3,500 feet in elevation, made by the broken edges of the strata. We saw sections of these strata over a mile in thickness, yet full of shells through their whole thickness. I think the Tertiary rocks of this region are two or three miles thick! Who shall estimate the countless ages that must have elapsed while they were being deposited in that ancient ocean? While these myriads of animals were called into existence, generations lived and died, and at last the species themselves became extinct. Each day reveals new marvels in our labors, teaches us new truths in the world’s history.

Danville 01

Downtown Danville; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

We had camped in a “wind gap” and the air drew through fiercely. We expected it to die down with the night, but it did not. We “retired,” scattered here and there on the ground, some under the trees, but I out in the clear open air, for should fogs come on it is drier, as the sequel proved.

How the wind howled round my head and played with my hair and shrieked through the trees, as I lay and watched the stars before I went to sleep! The wind continued through the night, and with it came a dense fog from the sea, which wet our blankets, searched out every crevice, probed every rheumatic corner of our bones, and dripped like rain from the trees.

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