Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens

Chapter 2
Geology, Location and Topography
by Edward M. Shepard

Part 1

Greene county is situated on the great Ozark plateau, in the southwestern part of the State of Missouri, about forty miles from the Arkansas line on the south, and about sixty miles from the western boundary of the state. It is bounded on the north by Polk and Dallas counties, on the west by Lawrence and Dade, on the south by Christian, and on the east by Webster county. In outline, it is nearly square, the east and west measurements being a little greater than those from north to south. Its dimensions are about twenty-three by thirty miles.

Springfield, the county-seat, and the fourth largest city in the state, has an altitude, at the railroad tracks just north of the corner of Commercial street and Benton avenue, of 1,345 feet. The altitude at the Mill street station is 1,268. The United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, about 1885, determined the latitude as 37 13' 15.96" and the longitude as 93 17' 17.58", erecting a small monument over the point of observation, northwest of Fairbanks Hall on Drury College campus.

The Ozark Mountains,1 so-called, consist of a large plateau covering the greater part of southern Missouri and the northern part of Arkansas, and reaching an elevation of about 1,700 feet near Cedar Gap, the highest point reached by any railroad in the Missouri Ozarks.

The surface features of Greene county are due almost entirely to the erosion of streams, modified, to some extent, by folds, or flexures. The rocks are very largely limestones with intercalated beds of chert and impure flint, and some sandstones and shales, all of which vary greatly in hardness, crystalline structure, texture and chemical composition. They are variously acted upon by such agencies as flexures, which produce shattering, and thus render the breaking down of the formations more easy; by frost, which still further facilitates this process; by the chemical and erosive action of percolating waters, and by the weathering out of soft layers, with the consequent undermining of superincumbent beds. These physical agencies help to modify the topographical features of the country, and each formation, according to its peculiar structure, exhibits special characteristics, due to the action of one or more of these agencies, as will be seen in the particular description of each horizon. [59]

The main great divide, or watershed, of the Ozark uplift, which, in general, is followed by the St. Louis and San Francisco railroad, divides Greene county into two slopes. The waters on the north flow into the Missouri river; those on the south side of the slope find their way into the Mississippi through the White river. This divide is quite narrow in the eastern end of the county, falling away rapidly on both sides, forming the broken area around the headwaters of the Pomme de Terre and James rivers. To the west, it rapidly broadens into a wide, rolling plateau. The narrow eastern portion of this plateau is rough and rugged, where it falls abruptly to the headwaters of the Pomme de Terre and Sac rivers on the north, and to the tributaries of the James on the south. In general, the rock strata of the county dip southwesterly, a condition modified, locally, by slight flexures. To the west of the town of Strafford, and toward Springfield, is a beautiful, rich farming country which extends, constantly broadening, to the western limits of the county. The Kickapoo Prairie stretches southwesterly from the town of Nogo, and forms a broad plain between Wilson creek and the James river. This-area, with Grand Prairie to the west, is the finest farming land in the county and one of the most fertile areas in the Southwest.


Surrounding and penetrating this district on all sides, from the Sac and James, are small streams and branches, usually heading in springs or swampy uplands. When a low enough level is reached to allow of the escape of subterranean waters, springs of various sizes abound, always increasing in volume in approaching the lower beds of the Upper Burlington formation. The marvelous system of underground drainage in this cavernous limestone, and its striking effects upon the topography of the country, is still further indicated by the numerous sink-holes, which are usually associated in groups, having the same general trend, and usually marking the course of subterranean streams. These sinks occasionally have small streams appearing at one end, flowing through the center and disappearing at the other end, as is seen, for example, on the McDaniel farm, south of Springfield, in the southwest quarter of section 12, township 28, range 22; also in the city of Springfield, at the southeast corner of Cherry and Dollison streets, where a large sink-hole was formerly used by the city for the conveyance of the sewage of the neighborhood. This system of underground drainage is further illustrated by the great streams, that flow from small caves in the Upper Burlington formation around the limits of this district.

The great agent in developing the topographic features of the country have been the remarkable system of underground watercourses, which has formed the sinks, so characteristic of the plateau, as well as the narrow gorges and ravines that penetrate deeply on all the borders of the district. A study of the sinks shows that they are the beginning of these gorges, which are so abundant. [60]

South and east of the great divide, before described, is another and smaller divide, lying between the James and Finley rivers, in Christian county. In Washington township, in the southeast corner of Greene county, it forms a narrow plateau presenting somewhat different aspects from those characterizing the main divide. The drainage is poor, and the surface of the country is mostly an elevated plain, with a slightly rolling surface covered by post-oak flats. The highest point in this township is just south of Harmony church, where the attitude reaches about 1,540 feet. The divide narrows toward the west, forming abrupt slopes and bluffs toward Finley on the south, with more slopes toward the James. On the plateau of this divide are many sink-holes, marking underground streams, and forming one of the best examples of Karst2 topography found in the state. The plateau is generally marked by an absence, in this township, of continuous valleys. The sink-holes are frequently greatly elongated and simulate portions of valleys, which they really are-that is, valleys in process of formation. It has been stated that there is a general dip of the rocks to the southwest throughout Greene county. A broad bed of the hard, compact Lower Burlington limestone forms a water-table tilting to the southwest and underlying the Upper Burlington, which is a much softer, more porous and easily eroded layer.

Surface water from the Lower Burlington contact has formed solution chambers to the west and south through the base of the Upper Burlington, and where the roof of these channels falls in, as is the case in many places, elongated sink-holes are formed. Of several channels of the kind in this region, two may be mentioned. The first begins about two miles west of Rogersville, where the Rogersville road crosses a large sink-hole pond, in which a more or less permanent body of water is found. To the west, in the north half of Section 20, township 28, range 20, is an elongated sink-hole, three-quarters of a mile long and from one-quarter to one-half mile wide, in which two cave openings are found. The opening to the southwest is connected with an underground stream which comes to the surface in the Vaughan spring, three miles to the west, in section 24, township 28, range 21. The latter flows on the surface for some distance, passes the Mentor cemetery, from which it receives the drainage, then sinks to reappear in the Russel spring, in section 22, township 28, range 21. After running for half a mile, it sinks again, to come out as a spring in section 28, township 28, range 21, a part flowing along the surface and disappearing in a cave-sink in section 29, township 28, range 21 making its final appearance where the spring at Camp Cora empties into the James river. The course of this drainage has been worked out by a series of careful chemical examinations, which were conducted not only to show the continuity of underground drainage, but the danger of spring pollution in, regions where the Karst topography prevails. Typhoid fever cases from various points along this route can be traced to the Mentor cemetery. [61]

A second line of drainage branches off from the big sink-hole in section 20, township 28, range 20, on the Everly farm. Its underground course may be marked by the sink-holes found on the Kelley place, in the southwest of section 17; three large sink-holes in section 18, township 28, range 20; and, following the course westward, four more along the middle of section 19; a large one in the north half of section 14; two to the west in section 15, and the outlet of all these in the Big Boiling spring, on the Winoka Lodge property.

During ordinary rains, as there are no trunk-valleys in this topography, water is drained into these great sink-holes, from which it runs down into the under-channels and is conveyed away. During floods, or exceptional rainfall, these surcharged channels are incapable of carrying away the water, and the sink-holes fill up, many of them covering forty acres or more. In the case of the Everly sink, a beautiful transient lake of 120 acres is formed. One of nearly eighty acres is formed on the Hooper place, in section 14, township 28, range 21. The road, which passes through this sink, is so deeply submerged temporarily that the water covers the tops of the telephone poles.

To the north and east of the great divide, stretching in a northwesterly course from Strafford, toward the junction of the Big and Little Sac waters, lies an area which gives us another very striking topographic structure. A great fold of the strata, extending from Northview, in Webster county, through Greene, to Graydon Springs, in Polk county, is abruptly faulted on the northern slope, with a more gentle inclination to the southwest. The summit of this fold is made up, largely, of long, narrow patches of level, unproductive land, covered with post-oak. Except in the driest season, when it has an ash-colored, powdery soil, it is a damp, clayey, frequently cherty, upland.

Northeast from Strafford, on the Marshfield road, a narrow ridge of sandstone, capped by river conglomerate, is found. This peculiar bluff rises a height of 110 feet above the stream. A series of these ridges, or mounds extends in a northwest course through the county. The one near the town of Fair Grove forms quite a striking feature in the landscape. An interesting mound of circumdenudation is found near Presley Hill, in section 27, township 30, range 22, a feature that will be more fully described on another page. The protecting influence of a harder, over a softer stratum of rock, can be seen near the Matherly place, section 24, township 21, range 23. The rocks here rise to a height of 120 feet above the bottom land; and the softer layers of the magnesium rock form a vertical wall, capped by a harder silicious bed which, in some places, projects twenty feet beyond the wall below.


As already stated, the great divide, or water-shed, of this region runs. diagonally through the middle of Greene county, the drainage on the north side being mainly into the Sac river and Pomme de Terre, finally reaching the Missouri through the Osage river. South of the divide, the James river and its tributaries constitute the chief drainage system, the water ultimately finding its way through White river into the Mississippi.

James River-The territory drained by this stream and its branches embraces, virtually, all the country south of the great divide. The James has its origin some fifteen miles to the east of Greene county, in Webster county, in section 24, township 29, range 17, from where it pursues a northwesterly course toward Northview, in Webster county and where it was, at one time, an extension of the Pomme de Terre-a most interesting example of river capture. The elevation of the great fold from Northview to Graydon Springs, before referred to, cut off the head waters of the then Pomme de Terre, which were captured by the smaller stream, the James and added to its volume.

Through Greene county, the James is fed by numerous large springs. Pierson creek, one of its largest tributaries, drains the country east of Springfield and south of the great divide. Galloway creek is the only tributary of any size in Clay township. It flows south, receiving the waters of Sequiota (Fisher's) cave. This township is noted for its caves and sinks, and the system of underground drainage more fully described under the subject of Karst topography.

Wilson creek drains the largest area of any of the branches of the James. On account of receiving the sewage from the city of Springfield, the waters of this stream are very impure and turbid. In dry weather this creek disappears a number of times along its course, exhibiting a more advanced stage of Karst topography than that described in another part of the county.

The Sac river drains about the same amount of territory in the north west part of the county that the James does in the southeast. It empties into the Osage just west of the town of Osceola, in St. Clair county, and is mainly made up of the West, Main and North Sac branches. The West Sac is formed by the union of Pickerel, Pond and Clear creeks, which drain the center of the west portion of Greene county. Main Sac is made up of Asher creek, North Dry Sac, Sims branch and South Dry Sac. The river has its source in the Norton, Piper and Dishman springs, in Jackson township. North Dry Sac has its source in the Headlee springs. Asher creek drains the greater part of townships 30, and 31, range 23, running nearly through the middle of these townships.

Pomme de Terre River.This stream drains the extreme northeastern corner of Greene county, and empties into the Osage five or six miles above the town of Warsaw. [63]


The Upper Burlington limestone, because of its soft and porous nature, is one of the prominent cave formations of Missouri, and some of the caves in Greene county are of sufficient importance to deserve more than a passing mention. Chief among these is Percy cave, seven miles northwest of Springfield, in section 33, township 30, range 22, formerly known as Knox cave. Its location is at the head of a deep, narrow gorge that extends a little less than one-quarter of a mile south from Sac river. The gorge represents a former portion of the cave, the roof of which, having fallen in, has filled up its former outlet. Since its discovery, in 1866, this cave has been carefully protected from vandalism, and is more perfectly preserved than the majority of such places. The present opening has been partially walled up, and is guarded by an ordinary door. Upon entering, after passing over huge blocks that have fallen from the roof, there appear numberless immense pilasters. On climbing over a small hill of fallen debris, a narrow gorge is reached, where the roof is exquisitely beautiful from innumerable slender stalactites, many of which are formed around the penetrating roots of trees that are growing on the surface of the ground above the cave. Climbing up a steep incline at the farther end of this gorge, a large chamber is soon reached, which is about thirty feet high by seventy-five feet wide, from which opens .a smaller side chamber, which has been explored for only a short distance. Penetrating more deeply into the cave, the edge of a deep gorge, a large chamber is soon reached, and suddenly a descent is made to a small bridge over a wet-weather stream which crosses the gorge at right angles. A number of blind crawfish have been obtained from this rivulet. Ascending the steps cut into the steep bank beyond the bridge, the end of the accessible portion of the cave is soon reached. Here the roof very rapidly inclines toward the floor, and one is compelled to stoop in order to pass to the large and beautiful spring at the end of the cave. Although hardly one-half mile in length, and with chambers of no very great size, this cave is still one of the most beautiful in the United States. The constant variety met with in the display of stalactites, which range from sparkling, creamy white to earthy brown in color, the splendid fluted pilasters, some of large size, and the beautiful rosettes of stalactitic origin in the roof, all contribute to form a series of scenes which, in the weird intensity of electric lights, make a profound impression upon the observer. [64]

Sequiota (Fisher's) cave, near Galloway, is another interesting point. It opens in a low bluff on the east side of the valley through which the Chadwick branch of the St. Louis & San Francisco railroad passes. It is about eight feet high and thirty feet wide at its mouth, and enters the bluff in a northeasterly course. A stream of pure cold water issues from its mouth. About three hundred feet from the entrance, the cave attains a width of about sixty feet and a height of about twenty-five feet. A short distance farther, a spring rises from the eastern side, beyond which there is a waterfall of several feet, and to this point the explorer is conveyed in a boat. The cave forks here to the north and east. It has been explored for several hundred feet beyond the first waterfall. A second fall, of about six feet, is found at the end of the east branch, and beautiful stalactites are everywhere seen. The fine spring which has its outlet through this cave was taken advantage of by the settlers as early as 1840.

The Mason cave, a remarkable cavern at Ash Grove, has two openings, one near the summit of a hill in the northwest end of a small valley, into which flows a small, wet-weather stream, called Dry creek. This opening is about eight by thirty feet. A great mass of rock has tumbled down in front of it, forming a wooded point about fifty feet to the northwest of the entrance. An attempt has been made to darn up the outlet of the valley, so as to make a lake, but without success. This valley really represents a sunken portion of the cave. The other opening of the cavern is about one-fifth of a mile to the westward of the first described, and is on a bluff facing the Sac river. It is a round hole, about fifty feet deep, and precipitous on all sides but one, where a steep path leads down over the talus to the bottom. The vertical east, south and north sides of this opening are greatly disturbed and shattered, and covered with stalagmitic incrustations. The cave contains several large chambers, with some fine stalactitic ornamentation, which has been greatly mutilated by relic hunters.

The Doling Park cave was formerly known as the Giboney cave, and is one of the attractive features of a beautiful park laid out just north of the city of Springfield. It is not a large cave, but it sends forth a considerable stream of water, which, being dammed, forms a small lake that is utilized for bathing purposes, boating and fishing.

Of the numerous smaller caves which abound throughout Greene county, only a few will be noted, viz. the Lapham caves and sinks in Cass township (section 23, range 22, township 30); Crystal cave, near the Sac, north of Springfield; the cave from which Jones' spring issues (section 27, township 29 north, range 21); the Little Yosemite cave (section 28, township 29, range 21); Wild Cat cave, near Boiling Spring or the Winoka Lodge property (section 15, township 23, range 21); the cave in the bluff at Pierson creek mines; the Robberson cave (section 17, east half of northeast quarter, township 30, range 21); and several interesting caves on the south side of the James river, east of Patterson spring, on the Yarborough farm. [65]


The rocks of Greene county consist, first, of a series of more or less evenly and regularly bedded deposits, largely composed of white limestones, with some shales; and, second, of a sequence of heavily bedded, or massive, bluff magnesian limestones. The former are almost entirely Lower Carboniferous rocks which bear considerable chert, and which, in isolated places, are overlaid by beds of sandstone. The second series, the magnesian limestones, or dolomites, belong to the basal portion of the Silurian Age. They are chiefly exposed in the river valleys in the northern and easten bordersof the county, where they have been brought to the surface through the elevation of the Ozark Uplift, and the vigorous trenching of the streams. Between the first and second series, there is a wide interval, covering most of the Silurian and Devonian Ages, the latter being represented in this region by a few thin beds of limestones, sandstones and shales.







Des Moines

Graydon sandstone


Upper Burlington limestone


Lower Burlington limestone


Chouteau limestone


Hannibal shales

Louisiana limestone

Phelps sandstone



Sac limestone

King limestone

James River shale

Joachim limestone

St. Peter sandstone




Jefferson City limestone

Roubidoux sandstone

Gasconade limestone

Gunter sandstone

Decaturville limestone


The oldest rocks exposed at the surface in Greene county are those of the Ozark series of magnesian limestones. In the extreme northeast part off the county, on the Pomme de Terre river, in section 5, township 31, range 20, is the following section:

5. Limestone, magnesian (Joachim limestone), 50 feet.

4. Sandstone (St. Peter), 26 feet.

3. Limestone, magnesian (Jefferson City limestone), 10 feet.

2. Sandstone (Roubidoux), 40 feet.

1. Limestone, magnesian (Gasconade limestone), 10 feet.

The few fossils that are found in these beds are imperfectly preserved, and confined to the upper layers. The limestones are all dolomites, generally heavy-bedded, varying from highly silicious lime rocks to very compact, fine-grained dolomite ("cotton-rock.")3.


This is the lowest formation exposed within the limits of Greene county, and the point at which the above section was taken is the only exposure in the county. Just beyond this county, to the northwest, it is the most prominent surface formation.


In the bed of the Pomme de Terre, where the outcrop of Gasconade limestone occurs, a section of Roubidoux sandstone of nearly twenty feet is exposed. It is variable in structure, but usually coarse-grained, with stratification lines frequently visible. The grains themselves vary in texture, shape and size. Some are limpid, and some are iron-stained quartz, while throughout the whole mass occasional milky-white grains are found. These grains are all more or less irregular in shape, thus differing from those of the St. Peter sandstone. The calcareous cementing material is considerable-another point of difference between this and the St. Peter sandstone. The lower layers of this formation are frequently cherty. Crossing the Pomme de Terre at the point of this exposure, a small bluff is encountered on the Elkland road, a short distance from the ford, on a branch that comes in from the north. Here this sandstone has a thickness of from thirty-five to forty feet, and the face of the bluff shows false bedding and ripple marks. This is the only point in Greene county where these beds are exposed. [67]

It is from the Roubidoux sandstone, reached at a depth of from eight hundred to a thousand feet in and near Springfield, that the excellent water-supply of the deep wells is obtained. This formation has a thickness of about 300 feet in these wells.


With the exception of the northeast part of the county, this formation has a very limited distribution in the area under discussion, and at no point has it been possible to obtain a complete section. The upper and lower beds outcrop in many places, but no comprehensive outline of the middle beds, as a whole, can be given. To the north, and particularly to the east and south of Greene county, the Jefferson City limestone thickens greatly, reaching, at Lebanon, in the deep well, a thickness of over four hundred feet. To the southeast, it has a thickness of nearly five hundred feet. At the power-house of the Springfield Traction Company the drill passed through one hundred and ninety feet. In the deep well of the Springfield City Water Company, at the pump station, one hundred and seventy-five feet was found. Wherever exposed, when freshly broken, this rock is a rather soft, fine-grained, compact, grayish-white, rather thin-bedded dolomitic limestone. Frequently the upper beds are highly silicious, and in weathering exhibit the jagged honeycombed peaks, or monument-like masses, similar to, though on a far larger scale, than the Joachim limestones. The lower beds are also almost always more silicious, and pitted with geode-like cavities, or honeycombed by weathering, leaving silicious skeletons in strangely contorted forms, standing up, in places, in jagged peaks two or three feet high, and so close together as to make traveling among them very difficult. In the eastern portion of the county, exposures are confined almost wholly to Taylor township, and only a small portion of the upper beds are seen. Where erosion has not strongly cut into this formation, a very beautiful rolling upland, with usually rich and fertile soil, is found. Where the streams cut through deeply into this horizon, beautiful bluff scenery abounds, which is rarely precipitous, the irregularity in the texture of the beds resulting in the formation of benches an slopes, rather than sharp precipices. No fossils of any kind have been found in this horizon in Greene county. Many of the beds of this formation could be utilized for building purposes as well as for the manufacture of lime. As an ore horizon, it is one of some importance in adjacent counties.


This sandstone is mainly confined to the northeast portion of the county, though it also outcrops along the James river. It has a maximum thickness of forty-five feet, but varies greatly within short distances. In color, it varies from a reddish to white coarse-grained sandstone, of loose texture, in decided beds from one to four feet thick, and usually associated with a very hard (silicious) sparkling limestone, above and below. It is a very durable rock, standing out prominently and forming benches and overhanging ledges in the beds of streams. While it is generally friable, it possesses, to a high degree, the power to resist the elements. Frequently the exposed surfaces are covered with ripple marks. In a well-section, the property of the Springfield Traction Company, from thirty-five to forty feet of this rock was passed through. At the old Phelps mine, five miles southeast of Springfield, it appears to be not more than two feet thick. It forms the bed of the James river along nearly its entire course through Taylor township. [68]


This formation has a maximum thickness of about one hundred feet, but varies greatly at points not far distant from each other. The beds are much attenuated on the slopes of the grand divide. Owing to the great variation in the texture of this formation, erosion frequently leaves these beds in great blackened masses, which cover the surface of the ground for long distances. In other places, the softer matrix is removed and the cherty masses are smaller and nodular or lenticular in shape, varying in size from an inch to a foot or more in diameter and covered with mammillary and botryoidal surfaces, occasionally drusy with quartz crystals. Locally, these masses are called "nigger-heads," or "corn-shellers." They either lie loosely in the exposed bedrock or are partially bedded in the poor, ashy soil which forms many of the barren post-oak glades. Such a condition is well exhibited over the top of a broad ridge in section 21, township 31, range 20; also in irregular patches from this place to section 9, township 31, range 23, ending just over the Greene county line, in Polk county, where is found a large glade with scant covering of dwarf grass and scrub post-oak. Besides the smaller masses, there are, in this location, numerous very much larger boulders forming the nuclei for low, conical bosses, which are from ten to twenty feet in diameter at the base, and about two feet high. These low hummocks have frequently been mistaken for Indian mounds, but their origin is evident. As a rule, the upper beds of this formation are more silicious, and form what miners call "sand-flint layers." The lower layers are frequently dolomitic limestones, forming beds of "cotton-rock."


A hiatus exists between the Carboniferous and the Silurian formations. The Hannibal shales, from their loose texture and their readily decomposable nature, wash down and form, almost invariably, a long and gentle slope, or terrace, covering the underlying formations for some distance, thus making it exceedingly difficult to find the junction between these shales and the underlying beds. It is rarely, except in mines and well-sections and in a few other localities, that a systematic knowledge of these beds can be obtained. Four horizons of this age have been fully synchronized in this and adjoining counties, and as they are so thin and so varied in their presence we shall but mention their names in the following generalized section:4

Phelps Sandstone 0 to 4 feet.
Sac Limestone: 1 to 18 feet.
King Limestone: 1 to 15 feet.
James River Shale or Black Shale: 1/2 to 5 feet.


The great subdivisions of the Carboniferous Age are recognizable in Greene county as a lower part, or Mississippian Series, and an upper part, or Pennsylvanian Series (coal measures). The former or lower part, occupies probably nine-tenths of this county, and is represented by several well-marked members. The latter, or upper part, is represented only by small, isolated patches, outliers of the coal fields, which are situated in the western part of the state.


This series is represented in Greene county by two subdivisions, the Kinderhook and the Osage. The Kinderhook is divided into three horizons, as follows:

Chouteau Limestone: 3 to 30 feet.
Hannibal Sandstones and Shales: 10 to 90 feet.
Louisiana Limestone: 0 to 8 feet.


This is a very compact, medium-grained limestone, its surface weathering so as to expose minute crinoid stems. The rock is so compact that if the weathered slabs are held up and struck with a hammer, they ring like bell metal. Exposed surfaces are frequently speckled with minute particles of calcite. Outcrops of this formation are not always easy to find in this county, as they are so often covered by the decomposed shales of the Hannibal series above. The beds are rarely more than from four to eight feet in thickness. [70]


This formation is usually made up of two members, an upper one, which is commonly a dark, yellowish brown to buff fine-grained, compact sand-rock, penetrated in all directions by tortuous tube-like borings, filled with a softer matter, and frequently called "worm-eaten" rock, and a lower member, which is compact, grayish to blue, in some places greenish, magnesian shale. The latter varies from hard to soft in texture, decomposing into a clayey, sticky, greenish mud. Frequently the weathered slabs exhibit the "rooster-tail" or "caudi-galli," markings.

This formation has a thickness of from ten to one hundred feet, the sandstone member ranging, perhaps, from a few to twenty-five feet, and the shales from twenty-five to seventy-five feet. The shales seem to be always present, and usually increase in thickness where the sandstone decreases, or is absent. These rocks are exposed, first, where the streams cut through the overlying strata and into them; and, second, where a fold or fault brings them to the surface. The sandstone is quite durable, and in weathering usually forms benches, or terraces, protecting the softer shales beneath. In some cases, flat-topped mounds, or buttes, are formed, as in the so-called "Indian Mound," on Presley Hill-one of the best locations in the county for the study of this formation.

The sandstone of this formation is largely used by farmers for foundation stones and for chimneys, as it is very durable and withstands the effects of fire.

The shales, along Pierson creek, are ore-bearing, but the beds are usually too thin to hold large deposits of ore. These shales have, usually, a large amount of iron pyrites and magnesium carbonate. The former, decomposing, produces sulphuric acid, sets free the carbonic dioxide, and produces magesium sulphate. Water percolating through these beds is often impregnated, with mineral matter, and consequently springs or wells in this horizon are sometimes unfit for use.


While varying structurally at different points, this formation possesses certain general lithological characteristics by which it may be easily recognized. It is, fine-grained, compact, heavily bedded, buff to yellow in color, frequently slightly arenaceous, much softer in the bed than when exposed to the air, and weathers badly, leaving the surface with deep, irregular grooves and prominent rounded ridges and points. These rocks are well exhibited along the James river, in Taylor township, where they vary from thirty to forty feet in thickness. In the north half of the county they are confined mainly to the slopes of the Sac. They are too thin to form much of an ore horizon, and their structure seems unfavorable for the accumulation of an ore body. As a building material, some of the harder, arenaceous beds would, probably, justify a more general use. The color is handsome, and presents a strong contrast to the Upper Burlington and Magnesian limestones, which are so generally used. This rock should replace some of the trimmings that are now imported at considerable expense. From a quarry which was worked many years ago on the James river, in section 32, township 29, range 20, stones were taken which stood for many years in the pillars of the old court house in Springfield, where, though long exposed to wind and weather, they continued unmarred, except by the vandalism of man.

The scenery produced by the weathering of beds of the Kinderhook stage is so striking that a little experience enables one to recognize them at a considerable distance. Rounded hills, with gentle slopes and terraces, are the characteristic features which give a very pleasing aspect to the country. On wild land, the sumac grows: luxuriantly along these terraces. Mounds and low buttes frequently occur from the weathering of the softer shales beneath. Quite a striking series of these rounded mounds is seen north of Strafford, in township 30, range 20.


This series includes, in Greene county, the two following geological formations:
Upper Burlington: 100 to 250 feet.
Lower Burlington: 20 to 90 feet.


Next to the Upper Burlington, the Lower Burlington has the widest distribution of any formation in Greene county. The dip of the strata to the southwest buries it beneath the upper members in the western tier of townships. It reaches a maximum thickness of ninety feet in the eastern part of the county, but thins out toward the north. It averages about sixty feet in thickness. It is best exposed on the uplands from the James, in Taylor township, and northwest of the town of Strafford. The upper beds of the Lower Burlington are made up of from five to twenty feet of yellowish-white, very hard chert, which breaks with a conchoidal, or splintery, fracture, some fragments being as sharp as a knife-blade. It is non-fossiliferous, which, with the foregoing characteristics, distinguishes it from the chert of the Upper Burlington. It steadily increases in amount toward the south from Springfield. This is the material from which the Osages were accustomed to make their arrow-points and hatchets, as has been described in another chapter. [71-72]

Underneath the chert bed of the Lower Burlington is found a heavily bedded bluish, or slate-colored, very hard limestone, which is often interspersed with lenticular masses of hard chert in the north, and which, towards the south, develops into a succession of numerous alternating beds of chert and limestone, each but a few inches thick. The Traction Company well-section, at Springfield, gives a thickness of about ninety feet of Lower Burlington.

Owing to the great hardness of this formation, streams cut into it narrow gullies and gorges; and because of the indestructibility of the chert and the- excessive hardness of the limestone the formation presents the most unfavorable conditions possible for the deposition and accumulation of an ore-body-hence the almost total absence of ore in paying quantities in this formation throughout the Southwest.

As a building stone this rock can never be so valuable as it is in the northern part of the state. Usually it breaks in an irregular manner and contains much chert. There is one use for this rock, which, strange to say, has been almost wholly overlooked. Everyone who has driven over the ridge roads in the southern counties of the state must have been impressed with the way in which the chert packs down and forms a natural macadam roadway. As a material for macadamizing, nothing could be finer than this chert, and its economic value in this respect should be emphasized. The Lower Burlington rock is not utilized for burning into lime in this area, though it is extensively used for this purpose elsewhere, in localities where it is less silicious.

Between the Lower and Upper Burlington beds there is considerable, unconformity. At, or near, their contact are the finest and largest springs in this district. The porous, coarse-grained, cavernous Upper Burlington, with its numerous sink-holes, forms a fine reservoir for percolating waters, which, meeting the compact Lower Burlington below, burst out as fine, cold springs.


By far the most important formation in Greene county is the upper division of the Burlington, which almost completely covers three-fourths of the on county. The upper beds are well shown in many outcroppings, and in the large quarries, railroad cuts and bluffs around Springfield. In nearly all sections that have been obtained the upper portions are made of chert or thinly-bedded alternating layers of shaly limestone and chert. These limestone beds are more compact in structure than those below, and occasionally they are somewhat oölitic. Where drainage is slight the chert of the upper beds is left mixed with the residual clay, both from the limestone belonging to it and from the formerly overlying beds of Graydon sandstone, in such a manner as to form a wet, hard-pan soil, tnaking the post-oak flats so common in many townships, and especially south of the Graydon-Northview fold. [73]

The chert throughout the whole Upper Burlington formatmion is usually soft, owing to its calcareous nature. It is much less compact than the chert of other formations, very ferruginous, fossiliferous and easily decomposed. These striking features are the guide in southwest Missouri that makes this chert a landmark. The limestone of this formation is usually fossiliferous, decidedly more so than that of any of the other formations, varying from white to gray in color, and the upper beds weathering in such a way as to expose innumerable sections of crinoid stems. The different beds of the Upper Burlington may be known by the following characteristics:

1st The heavy-bedded chert, or thin, alternating beds of shaly lime and chert already described, which vary from a few feet to about forty feet in thickness.

2nd The limestone underneath, rather coarse-grained, crystalline, soft and greyish in color, usually having white, rather soft lenticular masses of chert, from a few inches to a foot or two in diameter,. though the chert is occasionally absent. The heavy beds are the ones that form the best quarries in this horizon, and the rock in these often approaches marble in character. The middle beds range in thickness from sixty to one hundred feet.

3rd The lower beds are decidedly shaly in structure, though much harder than the upper ones, and, where exposed, they form shelving ledges, giving a rugged and barren appearance to the country. Frequently, long slopes are covered with these tumbled slabs, making a barren belt, left to the coarse grasses and the cacti. These shaly beds are excellent guides to the geologist in locating himself in this formation. The aborigines took advantage of this structure in making their burial mounds, which may be found at various points along the Sac and James rivers, especially near Delaware Town, in the bluff on the west side of the James, just above the iron bridge. In these lower beds, which have a thickness of from fifty to eighty feet, the chert increases toward the southeast. The limestone is remarkably pure, containing only traces of silica, alumina, magnesia and iron. It is freer from impurities than any other limestone in the county. The thickness of this formation at Springfield, as given by the well at the St. Louis and San Francisco car shops, is two hundred and fifteen feet, which is about the maximum.

The decomposition of these alternating beds of limestone and chert forms a wonderfully rich soil. The breaking down of the very soft, porous, fossiliferous and ferruginous chert, with the red argillaceous material derived from the weathering of the limestone, forms a most favorable condition for vegetable growth. This mixture of red clay and broken chert gives the stranger, at first sight, a very unfavorable impression but the fine crops raised in this area, and the wonderful strength of the soil, bear ample evidence to the fertility of the region. The great springs of Greene county, which will be described in another connection are all Upper-Lower Burlington contact springs. [74]

The numerous large and remarkable caverns found in the Upper Burlington formation, and the large number of sinkholes, which seem to have a greater or less regularity in trend, are further evidence of great erosion by underground streams. Even some of the surface waters sink and appear again as, for example, Wilson creek, which frequently disappears for short distances.

Natural bridges are occasionally found in this formation as on the Steury farm, about four miles east of Springfield. By walling up a part of the bridge over a spring the owner of the land has made a very fine milkhouse, from which an underground passage leads to his dwelling. This spring was probably a contact spring between the Upper and Lower Burlington, as the contact was noted just below in the shallow ravine; made by the falling in of the strata of a former cave.

Another natural bridge is found on the Mauzy farm, section 3, township 28, range 21. This beautiful bridge abruptly heads a narrow gorge about one hundred feet wide, which extends up from the bottom lands of the James river. The county road formerly passed over it. This bridge is fifty feet long, fifteen feet wide and twelve feet high. The bottom of the gorge is Burlington limestone. A fine spring issues from the bluff in the northeast corner of the gorge, and is conveyed by a trough to the interior of the bridge which is now walled in and used as a milk-house.

This formation is noted in the Southwest as the richest of the lead and zinc horizons. In the South, the rocks being much harder, the deposits are not so rich nor as extensive as in the Joplin and Aurora districts, this hardness being less favorable to the deposition and segregation of ore. The Upper Burlington limestone forms a good building stone and is largely sought after for that purpose in numerous quarries in and about the city of Springfield. The stone from many of the beds is susceptible of a fine polish, the upper fossiliferous layers resembling marble. The rock is very beautiful and durable, and may be seen in the Drury College chapel, the St. John Episcopal church and other buildings in Springfield. As a road material the surface chert is widely used for macadamizing, but it is neither as good nor as durable as that from the lower formations. Its soft texture causes it to break down quickly and pulverize. A very important industry is the manufacture of lime from this rock. In the vicinity of Springfield and at Ash Grove a flourishing business has been built up, and large quantities of lime are shipped. [75]


In Greene county the coal-bearing deposits are represented by only a few outliers, composed of shale, sandstone and conglomerate. Three small coal pockets have been found within the limits of this area. One of these is not of workable thickness, and the extent of the others has not yet been ascertained.

The coal measurers are arranged in about the following order: first, a rather coarse-grained, reddish sandstone, possibly the ferruginous sandstone of Swallow; second, patches of micaceous sandstone and bowlder conglomerate, overlying, in places, and apparently merging into the ferruginous sandstone, the conglomerate usually lying in elongated depressions in the micaceous sandstone-the Graydon sandstone, named from Graydon Springs, in Polk county, where it was first studied and named by the writer; third, in several localities small patches of alternating beds of highly inclined shales, from blue to greenish-black in color, occasionally mixed with thin seams of carbonaceous matter, and frequently containing tumbled bowlders of fossiliferous limestone; fourth, and last, a peculiar knotted chert named the Republic chert, from its great abundance around the town of Republic. This covers most of the highest points and overlies, apparently, the highest formation of Greene county. Of the shale, only a few pockets occur, and these are mainly confined to the western portion of the county.

The Graydon sandstone conglomerate is made up of two strikingly dissimilar deposits, and both may be present or either may be absent. The sandstone is usually a rather coarse-grained, more or less friable, micaceouis rock. It varies greatly in color and texture. Usually, resting on this sandstone are from twenty to eighty feet of the conglomerate, composed of rounded, polished, water-worn pebbles, varying from the size of a hickory nut up to several inches in diameter, cemented more or less firmly in a sandstone matrix. A typical outcrop of this formation is the well-known Fair Grove Mound, one of the most beautiful in the district. It stands as a landmark for all the adjacent country. This mound is nearly two-thirds of a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide, about one hundred and fifty feet high, and is capped by about eighty feet of the conglomerate. Other mounds dot the prairie to the west and north.

In the western part of the county the conglomerate appears in patches, stretching irregularly across the country. In many places the sandstone and conglomerate have been deposited in valleys gouged out of the Upper Burlington. This would indicate the agency of some powerful current of water, nothing less, in fact, than an immense prehistoric river, the course of which the writer has traced almost continuously from northern Arkansas to the Missouri, and which he has named the Schoolcraft river, in honor of Henry Schoolcraft, the earliest white explorer in this region. A current that would transport such an amount of bowlder material must have been very rapid and powerful. Its early action must have been to erode a channel which is well represented in the deep, narrow valley at Graydon, and northward. The trend and structure of the conglomerate deposits, in township 27, range 23, already described, is what one would expect to find in the dropping of debris in rapidly flowing streams, the small ridges corresponding to the currents of the streams. The variation in the size of the pebbles on different sides of the deposit is what one would expect to find where the current was retarded on the inner curve of a stream, the finer material would be deposited, and on the outer side the coarser would be dropped. This is well illustrated in the locality last referred to. Again, the deposits of clay, so characteristic in the depressions in this conglomerate, the tumbled bowlder masses of coal measures limestone associated with these clays, the fragmentary character of the plant remains found in this clay and shale (the last characteristic being especially noticeable in the clay deposited in the conglomerate at Billings), and the irregular and tilted bedding of the clay and shale, are all what one might expect to find in bends of great rivers and where the entering waters of tributary streams, retarding, the main currents, would cause a deposition of the sediment carried by the waters. [76-77]


Deposits closely resembling the gravels that collect on river beds today, but lying high above and frequently so distant from the streams that their origin can hardly be referred to recent stream deposits, are met with in places within Greene county. Several such gravel beds have been discovered in this area, notably the one found just west of Gates Station, on the Chadwick branch of the St. Louis and San Francisco railroad, southwest section 20, township 28, range 21. This is situated at an altitude of from forty to one hundred feet above the James river, and from a quarter to about a half a mile west of that stream. The deposit has been exposed for about a quarter of a mile along, the right of way of the railroad, and the county road running southwest from Gates indicates its extension for something less than a mile in that direction. Other small outcrops of this deposit have been noticed not far from -the Rockbridge road, east of the iron bridge which crosses the James; one thousand feet south of Brighton, on the Presley Hill road, and one on the -road just east of Winoka Lodge. These have been named by the writer the Winoka gravels. [77]


No evidence of Pleistocene or glacial drift has been found in this county, as the area lies too far to the south. This formation is well represented, however, by the usual residuary deposits of soils, clays and cherts, the bed varying in thickness from a few inches to thirty or forty feet, being much thicker and more widely distributed over the Upper Burlington limestone than over -the other formations. The variations, as represented by the different horizons and their important relations to agriculture, have been discussed in connection with other formations.

Frequent reports have been made in regard to bones found in the caves of this region. Only one case has been investigated, and this was on the Owen farm northwest of Springfield, northeast section 35, township 30, range 22. In this cave were found a large number of bones of pleistocene age. In 1885, in excavating just south of the round-house of the Kansas City, Fort Scott and Memphis railroad shops, in Springfield, a well preserved mastodon's tusk, eight feet long, was found in a horizontal crevice in the limestone. It was imbedded in black mud. [77-78]

1 The origin of the name "Ozark" is given by Featherstonhaugh in his book entitled "Excursions through the Slave States in 1834 and '35, p. 63. He says: "It was the custom of the French Canadians to abbreviate all their names. If they were going to the Arkansas Mountains, they would say they were going 'aux arcs,' a term which American travelers have converted into 'Ozarks.'"
2 So named from the Karst mountains in Austria, where this peculiar type of topography was first studied by the geologist, Albrecht Penck. See, "Uber das Karstphanomen Vortrage des Vereines zur Verbreltung naturwissen scha lecher Kentnisse." in Wien XLIV, Jhargang, Heft 1, 1903.
3 For a fuller description of the geological formations of the Cambro-Ordovician (Silurian) Age and their distribution throughout the County, the reader is referred to "The Geology of Greene County," E. M. Shepard, Vol. XII, Missouri Geological Survey, where they may be looked for either under the names or synonyms here given. Also, Water Supply Paper, Bulletin 195, U. S. Geological Survey, Underground Waters of Missouri, E. M. Shepard, pp. 11-30.
4 For a fuller discussion of these beds, see "The Geology of Greene County," E. M. Shepard, Missouri Geological Survey, Vol. XII, pp. 65-82.

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