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THE VALLEY DESCRIBED.
The name of Wyoming was long supposed to mean a field of blood ;” but it has been more correctly found to mean “the large plains.” It is derived from Maughwauwama, in the dialect of the Delaware Indians, maughwau meaning large, and wama signifying plains. Every one will admit that the word has lost nothing under the civilizing process of contraction to which it has been subjected. The name was originally used to designate a much larger extent of country than is embraced within the limits of the valley, and by which it is now appropriated. We shall not, however, introduce any thing in this volume beyond the limits of the valley as it is now known and designated.
Wyoming is the name given to a beautiful valley, situated along the river Susquehanna, in the northeastern part of the State of Pennsylvania. It is about three miles wide and twenty-five miles long, and is formed by two ranges of mountains nearly parallel to each other, extending from the northeast to the southwest.
These mountains contain many rocky precipices, and are covered with trees, consisting principally of oak and pine.
The average height of the eastern range is about one thousand feet; that of the western about eight hundred. They are of very irregular form, having elevated points, and deep hollows or openings, which are
The Susquehanna enters the valley through a gap in the western mountain, called the “Lackawannock Gap,” and, Aowing in a serpentine course about twenty miles, leaves the valley through another opening in the same mountain, called the “Nanticoke Gap.” These openings are so wide only as to admit of the passage of .the river, and are in part faced with perpendicular bluffs of rocks, covered with a thick growth of pine and laurel, which have a very fine appearance when viewed from the river, or from the road which passes along
their bases. The river is in most places about two hundred yards wide, from four to twenty feet deep, and Aows with a very gentle current, except at the rapids, or when swelled with rains or melting snows.
Near the center of the valley is a rapid called the Wyoming Falls, and another called the “Nanticoke Falls,” where the river passes through the Nanticoke Gap. Several tributary streams fall into the river, and, after passing through rocky gaps in the mountains on each side of the valley, form beautiful cascades as they descend into the plain. Those on the northwest side are Toby's Creek, Moses' Creek, and Island Run. On the southeast side are Mill Creek, "Laurel Run, Solomon's Creek, and Nanticoke Creek, all of which are sufficient for mills and abound with fish.
Along the river, and on both sides, are level fertile plains, extending in some places nearly a mile and a half from the margin of the river, where small hills commence stretching to the mountains; the rivers sometimes washing the base of the hills on one side, and sometimes on the other. The surface of the plain in some parts of the valley is elevated about ten feet
higher than in other parts, forming a sudden offset or declivity from one to the other. These plains are called the upper and lower “ Flats,” and spontaneously produce quantities of plums, grapes, many kinds of berries, and a great variety of wild flowers.
Throughout the valley and in the sides of the mountains mineral coal, of a very superior quality, is found in great abundance ; it is of the species called anthracite, which burns without smoke, and with very little flame, and constitutes the principal fuel of the inhabitants, as well as their most important article of exportation.
In the valley of Wyoming there exist some remains of ancient fortifications, which appear to have been constructed by a race of people very different in their habits from those who occupied the region when first discovered by the whites. Most of these ruins have been so much obliterated by the operations of agriculture, and inroads which successive floods have made upon them, perhaps for centuries, that their forms cannot now be distinctly traced out. That which remains the most entire was examined during the summer of 1817, and its dimensions carefully ascertained, although
from frequent plowing its form had become almost destroyed. It is situated in the township of Kingston, upon a level plain on the north side of Toby's Creek, about one hundred and fifty feet from its bank, and near its confluence with the Susquehanna. It is of an oval or elliptical form, having its largest diameter from the northwest to the southeast, at right angles to the creek, three hundred and thirty-seven feet, and its shortest diameter from the northeast to the southwest, two hundred and seventy-two feet. On the southwest side appears to have been a gateway about twelve feet wide, opening toward the great eddy of the river into which the creek falls. From present appearances, it consisted probably of only one mound or rampart, which, in height and thickness, appears to have been the same on all sides, and was constructed of earth, the plain on which it stands not abounding in stone. On the outside of the rampart is an intrenchment or ditch, formed probably by removing the earth of which it is composed, and which appears never to have been walled. The creek on which it stands is bounded by a high steep bank on that side, and at ordinary times is sufficiently deep to admit canoes to ascend from the river to the fortification.
When the first settlers came to Wyoming, this plain was covered with its native forest, consisting principally of oak and yellow pine ; and the trees which grew in