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Scientific American Supplement, No. 611, September 17, 1887

Illustration ON THE LAVA BEDS OF NIEDERMENDIG


[Illustration:

LAKE GEMUNDEN.]

Tired from our climb through the ashes, which are heated by the sun, we rest in the shade of a beech-wood, looking through the leaves into the valley below us, with the old cloisters and the high Roman church which the monks once built on the banks of the lake.

[Illustration: THE CRATER OF THE HERCHENBERGES.]

To the south of the lake rise other volcanoes, lying on the border of the fertile Maifeld, which gradually descends to the valley of Neuwied. Here, at the southern declivity of the group of volcanoes which surrounds the Laachersee, remarkably large streams of lava were ejected, covering the surface of the plateau with a thick layer. The largest of these streams is that from the Niedermendig, which consists of porous masses of nepheline lava. In the time of the Romans millstones were made from this mass of rock, and the industry is carried on now on a larger scale. It is a strange sight which meets one's eyes when, after descending through narrow passages, he finds himself in large, dark halls, from which the stone has been cut away, and in which there are well-like shafts. The stones are raised through these shafts by means of gigantic cranes and engines. Because of the rapid evaporation of the water in the porous stone, these vaults are always cool, winter and summer, and therefore they are used by several brewers as storehouses for their beer, which owes

its fame to these underground halls.

[Illustration: THE MILLSTONE GALLERIES IN THE LAVA BEDS OF NIEDERMENDIG.]

[Illustration: ON THE LAVA BEDS OF NIEDERMENDIG.]

Although the traces of former volcanic action are evident to the student of nature, the Rhine with its mild climate and luxuriant vegetation has covered many marks of the former chaotic state of the land. Very little of this beauty is seen on the higher and, therefore, more severe and barren mountains of the Western Eifel, through which a volcanic fissure runs from the foot of the high unhospitable Schneifel to Bertrich Baths, near the Moselle. From the ridge of the Schneifel the traveler from the north has his first glimpse of the still distant system of volcanoes. The most beautiful part of this portion of the Eifel is in the neighborhood of Dann and Manderscheid. Near the former rises a barren mountain with a long ridge, on each side of which is a deep basin. These are sunken craters, which now contain lakes, and near these two there is a third, larger lake, the Maar von Schalkemehren, on the cultivated banks of which we find a little village. The middle one, the Weinfelder Maar, is the most interesting for geologists, for there seems to have been scarcely any change here since the time of the eruption. On the other side of the mountain lies the Gremundener Maar, the shores of which are not barren and waste land, like those of the middle lake, but it is surrounded by a dark wreath of woods whose tops are mirrored in the crystal water. Farther to the south, near the villages of Gillenfeld and Meerfeld, there are more lakes.


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