The Permanence Of The Station Called Kuruman Depends Entirely
On The Fine Ever-Flowing Fountain Of That Name.
It comes from
beneath the trap-rock, of which I shall have to speak when describing
the geology of the entire country; and as it usually issues at a temperature
of 72 Deg.
Fahr., it probably comes from the old silurian schists,
which formed the bottom of the great primeval valley of the continent.
I could not detect any diminution in the flow of this gushing fountain
during my residence in the country; but when Mr. Moffat first attempted
a settlement here, thirty-five years ago, he made a dam six or seven miles
below the present one, and led out the stream for irrigation,
where not a drop of the fountain-water ever now flows. Other parts,
fourteen miles below the Kuruman gardens, are pointed out as having contained,
within the memory of people now living, hippopotami, and pools sufficient
to drown both men and cattle. This failure of water must be chiefly ascribed
to the general desiccation of the country, but partly also
to the amount of irrigation carried on along both banks of the stream
at the mission station. This latter circumstance would have more weight
were it not coincident with the failure of fountains
over a wide extent of country.
Without at present entering minutely into this feature of the climate,
it may be remarked that the Kuruman district presents evidence
of this dry southern region having, at no very distant date,
been as well watered as the country north of Lake Ngami is now.
Ancient river-beds and water-courses abound, and the very eyes of fountains
long since dried up may be seen, in which the flow of centuries
has worn these orifices from a slit to an oval form, having on their sides
the tufa so abundantly deposited from these primitive waters;
and just where the splashings, made when the stream fell
on the rock below, may be supposed to have reached and evaporated,
the same phenomenon appears.
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