November 6, 1864: Steamboat Hot Springs
November 6, 2014
[Today] I rode out to see the Steamboat Springs with Professor Silliman and Baron von Richthofen. These are very extensive hot springs about ten miles northwest of Virginia City. They lie in a valley about two thousand feet below the city and extend along for about a mile and a quarter. Near the Steamboat Meadow there is a wide valley, and at the foot of one side hill are the springs. Many are of water, of course, but the majority are merely steam jets. Nature’s chemistry has been going on here on a grand scale. The hot water contains silica dissolved, which is precipitated as the water cools. This has made a hill over a mile long, and in places two or three hundred feet high. Steam issues from thousands of vents, hissing, puffing, spouting—it can be seen for miles. Some of the springs are intermittent in their activity. One I timed and found that the water would sink in the basin and then rise and overflow again at intervals of about five minutes. They are very extensive, and there are signs that many others have existed in the region at some former times. Much of the country is volcanic.