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This is about high-country geology and a Rocky Mountain regional geologist. I raise that semaphore here at the start so no one will feel misled by an opening passage in which a slim young woman who is not in any sense a geologist steps down from a train in Rawlins, Wyoming, in order to go north by stagecoach into country that was still very much the Old West. She arrived in the autumn of 1905, when she was twenty-three. Her hair was so blond it looked white. In Massachusetts, a few months before, she had graduated from Wellesley College and had been awarded a Phi Beta Kappa key, which now hung from a chain around her neck. Her field was classical studies. In addition to her skills in Latin and Greek, she could handle a horse expertly, but never had she made a journey into a region as remote as the one that lay before her.
Meanwhile, Rawlins surprised her: Rawlins, where shootings had once been so frequent that there seemed to be--ascitizens put it--"a man for breakfast every morning"; Rawlins, halfway across a state that was spending per annum far more to kill wolves and coyotes than to support its nineteen-year-old university. She had expected a "backward" town, a "frontier" town, a street full of badmen like Big Nose George, the road agent, the plunderer of stagecoaches, who signed his hidden-treasure maps "B. N. George." Instead, this October evening, she was met at the station by a lackey with a handcart, who wheeled her luggage to the Ferris Hotel. A bellboy took over, his chest a constellation of buttons. The place was three stories high, and cozy with steam heat. The lights were electric. There were lace curtains. What does it matter, she reflected, if the pitchers lack spouts?
Copyright © 1986 by John McPhee
Posted May 14, 2010
Book Review: Rising From the Plains
Imagine a place where there are oceans, volcanoes, mountains, and other amazing geological feats all in the same small area of the United States. Imagine tropical vegetation in the United States. Can this be possible? Now Imagine the Rocky Mountains and how beautifully high they are streaking up in to the sky. Would one believe me if I said at one point they were once buried below sediment? I know the answer to all these questions is yes; all of these geological and climatic occurrences have happened at one time or another in the north western state of Wyoming. What would one think this place is like today? We can still see today a lot of what has been left behind form these processes. "Rising From the Plains" written by John McPhee is the book I chose to read and write about for my book review. The main character in this book is famous geologist John David Love who lived and studied geologic features in western Wyoming. Now I am not necessarily a fan of geology, I find it rather boring. Maybe this was not the best book for me to pick, but it was approved on the list and I had no trouble getting my hands on it in the library. This book does explain the forces of geology pretty well even though some of it went right over my head. The concepts of geology take thousands of years to form and I like to learn about concepts that our happening now that I can physically see and grasp the change. There were parts of the book that were quite enjoyable and very easy to read. In the book John David Love tells stories about his life including: the family ranch, his wife and children, his schooling, and the happenings of the times. The most interesting part of the book that I will extrapolate more on later is Love's core value of sustainability. He could be filthy rich with all the renewable resources he has found in Wyoming such as oil and natural gas, but he chooses to keep the integrity of the land intact and not do something just to earn money. He really keeps the welfare of the renewable resources close to his heart. I am not sure if anyone would choose to do what he did today. Wyoming was once at sea level. I know this means that at one point the western states like California and Oregon were underwater and once the sea level detracted that part of the country was exposed. This makes me wonder if more land under the ocean near coast will be exposed later due to lowering sea levels. From what I understand due to global warming however is icebergs and ice sheets are melting so more land will be covered up by the water level of the sea. I know just like anything in geology this will take a long time, but it still concerns me. I wonder about the effects this could have on our coastal states and what geologic features could be lost. One can learn a lot about geology from the state of Wyoming. The geologic diversity in Wyoming is unlike any other state. Some examples of geological phenomenon in Wyoming include the Teton Mountains jumped up many feet in a few seconds in the 14th century. Another cool feature is Absaroka volcanic sediments were a local part of the vast material that had buried the Rocky Mountains. Their huge boulders indicated close proximity to the events from which the rock had poured. Plenty of limestone can be found in Wyoming which is partial proof that Wyoming was covered by ocean at one point because limestone is ordinarily made up of corals, sh
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