Scuppernong Marl Pits
As this is an EarthCache, there is NO container. To claim this as a find you will need to complete the tasks outlined below. Failure to complete the tasks may result in the deletion of your log without notice.
The terrain is mostly a flat, well groomed trail and you should expect to walk 0.60 miles round trip (follow the sign marked, "Nature Trail"). Be sure to grab a trail map and explore the trail system as it has much to offer. Please donate .25 or return the trail guide when you are finished with it. The parking lot and trail-head are located at N 42° 56.132 W 088° 28.405. There is a fee to enter this state park. You may buy a daily or yearly pass right across the street at the ranger station.
A letter to the Editor of the Farmers' Register:
10 December, 1837.
"I observed your queries in the last number of the Register, and wish I could answer them, or some of them, with accuracy to satisfy myself. I commenced the application of marl in 1824, with but little knowledge of its action, and have kept no memoranda. About the same time, I began the use of marsh mud, and found its immediate effects so much more productive, that the marl was neglected. In the year 1833, your book on Calcareous Manures was recommended to me by the late Col. Edward Floyd of Talbot. Your views on the subject have induced me to turn my attention principally to marl, for improvement of my lands. From two fields of about 45 acres each, marled for the most part since that time, and an intervening crop of clover, I gathered this year six hundred barrels of corn, and it is not in my recollection that they ever before produced more than four hundred; a small quantity of putrescent manure being carried out as usual. My marl is blue, mixed with sand, and our geologist, Dr. Ducatel, states it at 45 and 50 parts of shell. I applied 500 bushels to the acre."
Marl is a soft, loose, earthy, material made of calcium carbonate or lime-rich mud which contains variable amounts of clays and calcite or aragonite. At Scuppernong Springs the marl has a white to off white appearance and is generally squishy in texture.
Wisconsin is rich in marl deposits as thousands of years ago an aquatic plant called chara thrived here. Chara extracted calcium carbonate from the water of melting glaciers and stored the chemical in its branches. When the chara died and sank to the lake bottom, it accumulated and decayed over time to form a chalky layer of soil.
Early surveys suggested the marl deposits at Scuppernong Springs were 15 to 21 feet deep and covered an area large enough to be mined for years.
Calcium carbonate is generally the main component in marl and is a common chemical compound found the world over. It is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, and eggshells. Calcium carbonate is found naturally as a component of aragonite, calcite, vaterite, chalk, limestone, marble, and travertine.
Uses of Calcium carbonate-
· Medically as a calcium supplement, an antacid or as a base material for pill tablets.
· As a building material in the form of marble or limestone aggregate.
· As an ingredient of cement.
· As an extender in paints.
· As a filler in plastics.
· In adhesives, sealants, and decorating fillers.
· In swimming pools as a pH corrector.
· As a major component of blackboard chalk.
· In water and sewage treatment to reduce acidity
· In agriculture to improve acidic soils
· As quicklime, it has been used in the burial of bodies in open graves, to hide the smell of decomposition.
· When cured, to create firebrick which was used to line furnaces and build fire-resistant structures.
· In forensic science to reveal fingerprints.
Mining the Marl Pits of Scuppernong-
In 1905 the Eagle Lime Products Company mined marl here. The company built a 34-foot by 200-foot building to house a kiln, and a 30-foot by 50-foot building to hydrate and package the lime. Along with the buildings a 6 mile railway was built. Among the products manufactured here were caustic lime for cement, mortar and firebrick, and hydrated lime for fertilizer.
After six years of mining, the company that at one time employed as many as 60 workers ceased operations. The cost of processing and shipping the heavy marl along with a shortage of hardwoods to fire the kiln eventually made the enterprise unprofitable.
You can still see a single section of rail and 11 ties midway along the trail to the factory ruins. Of the factory all that remains are the crumbling walls. See if you can find the large pile of marl located near the tree which appears to be eating a section of concrete. Go ahead and touch it.
EarthCache Logging Requirements:
1. You must estimate the square footage of the largest marl pit. It is 1,000 feet long. Multiply 1,000 x the width at the given coordinates and e-mail me the answer.
2. If there is no ice cover you must also describe the soil bed of the marl pit and e-mail me your description.
Uploading pictures is the best way to thank an EarthCache developer and to encourage others to visit.
The Geocache Notification Form has been submitted to Paul Sandgren of the Wisconsin DNR. Geocaches placed on Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources managed lands require permission by means of a notification form. Please print out a paper copy of the notification form, fill in all required information, then submit it to the land manager. The DNR Notification form and land manager information can be obtained at: http://www.wi-geocaching.com/modules.php?name=Wiki&pagename=Hiding%20A%20Cache