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The author of the History of the Valley had intended to postpone the subject of the following pages, and give the subject matter thereof in a second edition; but at the request of a highly respectable subscriber, and on consulting the printer, it is found that this addition to his work will not greatly increase the expense of the present volume. It is therefore deemed expedient to gratify public curiosity by giving the following sketches. If any one should be found incredulous enough to doubt the correctness of his statements, he can only say to such individuals, that they can have ocular proof of the truth of each by taking the trouble to examine for themselves.
That portion of the valley lying between the Blue ridge and Little North mountain, is generally about an average of twenty-five miles wide, commencing at the Cohongoruton (Potomac), and running from thence a southerly course to the commencement of the northern termination of Powell's Fort mountains, a distance of about forty-five miles.
This region, it has already been stated in a preceding chapter, when the country was first known to the white people, was one entire and beautiful prairy, with the exception of narrow fringes of timber immediately bordering on the water courses. The Opequon, (pronounced Opeckon) heads at the eastern base of the Little North mountain, and thence passing through a fine tract of limestone country seven or eight miles, enters into a region of slate land. This tract of slate country commences at the northern termination of Powell's Fort mountains, and is some six or eight miles in width east and west, and continues to the Potomac a distance of about forty-five miles. The Opequon continues its serpentine course through the slate region, and empties into the Potomac about fifteen or sixteen miles above Harpers-Ferry. It is thought by some individuals that this water course is susceptible of navigation for small craft, twenty-four or twenty-five miles from its mouth. This slate region of country is comparatively poor, un productive land; yet in the hands of industrious and skillful farmers, many very valuable and beautiful farms are to be seen in it. About twenty years ago a scientific Frenchman suggested to the author the opinion that this region of slate country was, at some remote period of the world, covered with a mountain, an abrasion of which had taken place by some great convulsion of nature. This he inferred from an examination of the base of the Fort mountain,—the stratum of the slate at the foot of which being precisely similar to that of the slate at the edges of the region of this slate country.” The author will not venture an opinion of his own on this subject, but has given that of an individual who it was said at the time was a man of considerable philosophical and scientific acquirements.