Home >> Comptons-pictured-encyclopedia-vol-02-bro-edi-p3 >> A Folklore Tale Of to Thomas 1795 1881 Carlyle >> Carpathian Mountains

Carpathian Mountains

peaks, feet and lower

CARPA'THIAN MOUNTAINS. Stretching like a mighty bow for 800 miles through the former Austrian dominions, from Pressburg on the upper Danube to Orsova on its lower course, lie the majestic Carpathian Mountains. They are second only to the Alps in importance for European geography. Their magnifi cent arc of towering peaks, rolling wooded hills, and deep shaded valleys almost surrounds the fertile plain lands of Hungary, precipitating the rains from the south and protecting the plains from the cold north east winds. The lower slopes are covered with forests of giant pines, but on the higher elevations the trees are sparse and stunted, disappearing altogether on the rugged granite peaks, which are bare excepting for the grayish mosses and silvery lichens that cling to the rocks. Snow covers the peaks for about nine months of the year, and on some of the mountain tops are small salt lakes which the peasants call " eyes of the sea" because of their blueness and because they believe them to be connected with the sea by underground channels undiscovered and unexplored by man. In the forests still roam wild beastsóbears, wolves, and lynxes; and great eagles and other birds of prey soar through the clear sky, their forms reflected shadowly in the mirror-like lakes below. Some of these peaks are more than 8,000 feet high, hut in general the elevations are only from 3,000 to 5,000 feet.

All through these wild mountains are great mining shafts, for the richest mineral deposits of all Europe lie in this district. Gold and silver are found in quantities; also copper, lead, zinc, iron, coal, and petroleum. Great veins of rock salt underlie the upland plateaus, sometimes reaching a thickness of 600 feet, arid tunnels traverse these deposits for mile after mile underground. Mining and forestry furnish occupations for many of the mountain people, but considerable farming also is carried on. Grain and vegetables are raised in the valleys, while flourishing orchards cling to the steep sides of sunny slopes.