Nowhere in the great State of Iowa is Tama county surpassed for its beautiful scenery; its rolling prairies interspersed and diversified with natural and domestic groves; its meandering streams and its carpet of flowers and verdure. It also ranks among the first as to Agricultural resources, and wealth, as it stands to-day. Tama county citizens may well be proud of their home.
Tama county lies nearly in the center of the State, being five counties from the east, north, and south State lines and seven from the west. It is bounded on the north by Grundy and Black Hawk counties; on the south by Poweshiek; on the east by Benton; and on the west by Marshall and Grundy counties. It comprises townships 82 to 86, north, inclusive, of ranges 13 to 16 west inclusive, containing 720, square miles or 470,000 acres of land.
Tama county is sub-divided into twenty-one civil townships, each comprising a full congressional township except two - Tama and Toledo - which together make one congressional township. These civil townships are named as follows, commencing with the north-east corner: Geneseo, Buckingham, Grant, Lincoln, Spring Creek, Crystal, Perry, Clark, Oneida, Carroll, Howard, Carlton, Indian Village, Toledo, Tama, Otter Creek, York, Salt Creek, Richland, Columbia, and Highland.
The county of Tama is one of the best in the State for general agriculture and stock-raising purposes. It is well watered in almost every part, its principal stream being the Iowa River, which enters the county on section 6, township 83 north, range 16 west (Indian Village township) and pursues nearly a southeast course, through Indian Village, Tama Richland and Salt Creek townships, emerging on section 36, in the latter township. This stream affords some fine water-power, which has been utilized to some extent an account of which will be found in the township histories. Among the other streams are Deer Creek, Wolf Creek, Four Mile Creek, Twelve Mile Creek, Otter Creek, Salt Creek, and Richland Creek. Deer Creek takes it's rise in Marshall county, entering Tama on section 30, Spring Creek township, and pursuing a southeasterly course, empties into the Iowa River near Tama city. Wolf Creek has two branches which rise in Grundy. The two form a junction in the northern part of Spring Creek township pursuing a torturous course through the townships of Spring Creek, Crystal, Perry, Buckingham, and Geneseo, emerges from section 24,in the latter township, and finally empties into the Cedar River. Four Mile Creek and Twelve Mile Creek are tributaries of Wolf Creek, the former heading in Lincoln township, and the latter in Grant. One branch of Salt Creek heads in Crystal and the other in Clark township. The two form a junction on section 34, Oneida township, and flowing south empty into the Iowa River on Section 36, Salt Creek township. Otter Creek heads in Carroll township, flows southeast and empties into the Iowa River on section 21, Salt Creek township. Richland Creek heads in Highland township, flows east through Highland, Columbia and Richland townships, empties into the Iowa River on section 13, in the latter township. The various streams have numerous tributaries which help to swell the whole and afford water for stock.
Timber is found along the banks of various streams, but principally along the Iowa river, where the timber belt ranges from a few rods to three miles in width. Nearly one-seventh of the county may be said to consist of timber lands including oak "opening land." The remainder of the county is a beautiful rolling prairie, the soil of which is what is usually denominated a black loam.
In the year 1848 the Treasury Department of the Government employed David Dale Owen, of Indiana, to make a geological survey of Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. He soon after took the field in person, and in 1852 the Government published his report in a large volume, accompanied with maps, all of which contains a mass of highly valuable and interesting matter. He was the pioneer geologist of the upper Mississippi Valley and his great labor and work has formed the foundation for all who have, or all who may, succeed him.
By an act of the Legislature of Iowa approved January 23, 1855, the Governor of Iowa, by the advice and consent of the Senate was authorized to nominate a person competent to make a geological survey of the State, and in accordance James Hall, of New York, was appointed, and during the year 1855-6-7, completed the survey, and in 1858 the State published his report in two volumes.
By another act of the Legislature of Iowa, approved March, 30, 1866, Charles A. White, was appointed State Geologist for two years, and he also proceeded to make another geological survey of the State, and his report was published in 1870 in two volumes. This report also contains much valuable and interesting matter and is a valuable addition to that of its predecessors.
Since then nothing has been done by the State to acquire more knowledge either of her mineral wealth, her paleontology, or of the remains of the silent pre-historic races that lie entombed in her soil.
The end and aim of all these surveys, was to give a general outline of the geology of the State, and from the means and time to which they wee confined, it was impossible for them to give an extended local survey to each county, therefore one must be content with what is had from them, together with what observations and reports that have been made by private parties. The following, regarding the geological formation of Tama county has been taken from these various reports:
In Tama County neither coal or mineral has been found in paying quantities, yet coal exists and sandstone has been found not only along teh river banks, but in the bluffs in the northern part of the county. Stone can be found in abundance in carlton and Spring Creek township, and in fifteen Mile and Six Mile Groves, while in the southwestern part of Indian Village township can be found limited quantities of stone. This stone is of peculiar formation, and belongs to the subcarboniferous lime-stone of the lower series divided int three classes. St. Louis limestone, Keokuk or Kinderhook limestone. the solidity and compactness of the formation renders it susceptible of the highest polish. The beds are some twelve feet in thickness consisting of three layers divided as follows:
First. Thin bedded sandy limestone three feet; Second. Thin bedded volitic limestone four feet; Third. Heavy bedded irregular limestone, gray with bluish tinge, six feet; and below this will be found thin beds of carboniferous limestone, from 8 to 10 feet.
The Keokuk or Kinderhook limestone is composed largely of fine grained, yellowish sandstone.
The Burlington limestone formation consists of distinct calcareous divisions which are separated by a series of silicious shale and chert together with nodular masses of flint, the whole mixed with a smaller proportion of calcarious matter. It affords much valuable material for building purposes, but which is confined, however, entirely to its stone. It is seldom that it affords anything suitable for ashlar, but for the purpose of common masonry it is excellent, as it endures exposure to the atmosphere and frost without appreciable change. Good lime can be made from it, but the greater part of the lime is made from the upper division, because it usually produces a whiter quality. The upper division furnishes excellent quarry rock wherever it is exposed. The rock is also strong and endures exposure well. The color of some portions of this division is so nearly white and its texture somewhat crystalline, that the purer pieces resemble marble. Although the area occupied by the outcrops of this formation in the county, is comparatively small, yet the fossil remains, which it presents are of the most remarkable character and profusion. The only remains of vertebrates, which the formation has afforded, are those of fishes and snails, which in some localities are numerous.
The St. Louis limestone formation, as it exists in Tama county consists of three tolerably distinct sub-divisions, principally dependent on lithological character. They are magnesian, arena, ceous and calcarious.
The first and lowest consists of a series of yellowish gray, more or less magnesian and usually massive layers. The second is yellowish or light gray, friable sandstone. The third or upper division is principally composed of light gray compact limestone, sometimes uniformly bedded, but it often has a concretionary and even a brecciated character. It furnishes excellent material for quick lime even when it is so concretionary and brecciated that it will nt serve a good purpose for building material, and is usually too soft for any practical use. It contains a great many fossils and is very attractive.
At Indiantown, in Tama county, the sub-carboniferous formation appears, commencing at the water level of the Iowa River.
No. 1. Yellowish shaly fine grained, 20 feet sandstone.
No. 2. Light gray volitic limestone, in heavy layers, 15 feet.
No. 3. Soft irregularly bedded, magnesian limestone passing up into purer and more regularly bedded limestone, 40 feet.
The surface deposits to which the name of drift is applied, has a far wider distribution than any other surface deposit. It meets the eye almost everywhere, covering the earth like a mantle and hiding the stratified rocks from view, except where they have been exposed by the removal of the drift through the erasive action of waters. It forms the soil and subsoil of the greater part of the State, and in it alone many of our wells are dug and our forests take root. Occasionally it is itself covered by another deposit; as for example the bluff deposit, in which case, the latter forms the soil and subsoil. The drift is composed of clay, sand and gravel with boulders, promiscuously intermixed, without stratification or any other regular arrangement of its material.
The clay drift, which is always present in greater or less proportion, is always impure; always finely distributed throughout the whole deposit, but not unfrequently irregular masses of it are separated from other materials. Its color is usually yellowish from the peroxyd of iron it contains, and which when it is burned into bricks gives them a red color.
The sand of the unaltered drift is seldom separated from the other materials in any degree of purity, but it is not unfrequently the case that it exists in excess of the others; and in some cases small accumulations or pockets of it are found, having a considerable degree of purity while the gravel is largely derived from rocks that are more or less purely silicious, but occasionally they are found to be of granite composition.
So small a portion of Tama county is occupied by the coal measures that it is scarcely worth while to mention it, though coal deposits have been found in the northern part of the county, and it is not improbable that other discoveries of it may yet be made in other portions.
In Indian Village township, bed No. 2 is well expose and is extensively quarried for lime. Near Le Grand, in the eastern part of Marshall county, only a few miles west of Indiantown, No. 3 of the preceding section is well exposed, showing a thickness of about forty feet from the level of the river. No. 1 and 2 do not appear, they having passed beneath its surface by a western dip, aided by the stream. the exposure here is composed almost entirely of light brown or buff colored limestone, more or less magnesian and in some of the more calcarious layers a slight tendency to volitie structiure is seen. Some of the layers are cherty, but a large part of it is quite free from silicious matter.
The stone is largely quaried for various purposes, and the finer layers, which frequently have a beautiful veining of peroxyd of iron, are wrought into ornamental and useful objects, and is known in the market as "Iowa Marble." Several other exposures of the Kinderhook beds are owned in Tama and Marshall Counties, one by H. S. Dickson and one by David Houghton. Those first mentioned are the principal ones.
In this county the volitic member is well exposed at several places where it is quarried and used for the manufacture of lime of excellent quality. It has been proposed to manufacture this volitic stone into table tops, mantles, etc., but although it may be made to receive a fair polish and its volitic structure gives it considerable beauty, it is feared that the well known tendency of all volitic limestone to become fragmentary will be found to render it worthless for such purposes. However, that near Montour and Indiantown promises to prove valuable for such uses.
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