Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Natural Stone Bridge and Caves- June 30
The weather forecast sounded just awful for today,filled with dire warnings of thunderstorms with hail. We headed out anyway. At the Natural Stone Bridge we first stopped at their rock shop. The shop has a rather extensive collection of geodes,crystals and gems. The caves we were about to enter have many minerals- that of marble,quartzite,garnet,and tourmaline,to name only a few of them. The path through this area is quite rocky and we needed a guide to move the boulders(see picture). Just kidding. In reality,it was a fun hike up and down stony steps,around boulders,and into narrow cave entrances. The natural stone bridge is not the bridge I was expecting. It was a large rock around and under which the Trout Brook stream ran(see second picture). That bridge is in front of the largest cave entrance in the East. The second cave we entered is called "Noisy Cave" because of the rushing water that runs through it- certainly not the little quiet streams which I usually find in caves. Also on the paths alongside this stream we noticed lush vegetation from all the little waterfalls that are present on the walls of the gorge- one wall has been dubbed the "wailing wall". On these moist rocks one scientist counted 36 species of Bryophyta(moss)and 14 species of liverworts. I also noted a few small white delicate flowers with purple striped petals seemingly coming out of the rock among the moss and liverworts. I know moss does not bloom- maybe a species of the liverwort does. After touring that area we drove due west to Barton Garnet Mines.The mines are located in the Gore Mountain of the Adirondacks. There we took a tour of their quarry mine and dug around for garnet(I found a few small garnet rocks,not gem quality). The mine was in operation from 1878-1982, and was the world's largest supplier of garnet sandpaper. There is now a synthetic type of sandpaper being made,and also a poorer quality of sandpaper that come from China- but the best kind of sandpaper has garnet in it and is reddish in color. This information we received from the great granddaughter of the founder of Barton Mines. John had many questions for her about mining garnet and she was very kind in taking time to answer his questions. It started thundering while we were in the quarry,but we had had sufficient time down there and got out in time before the rain came.