Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland.

When the external frost of winter comes on, the account proceeds, the effect in the cave is the same as if fires had been lighted there:  the ice melts, and swarms of flies and bats and hares take refuge in the interior from the severity of the winter.  As soon as spring arrives, the warmth of winter disappears from the interior, water exudes from the roof and is converted into ice, while the more abundant supplies which pour down on to the sandy floor are speedily frozen there.  In the Dog-days, the frost is so intense that a small icicle becomes in one day a huge mass of ice; but a cool day promptly brings a thaw, and the cave is looked upon as a barometer, not merely feeling, but also presaging, the changes of weather.  The people of the neighbourhood, when employed in field-work, arrange their labour so that the mid-day meal may be taken near the cave, when they either ice the water they have brought with them, or drink the melted ice, which they consider very good for the stomach.  It had been calculated that 600 weekly carts would not be sufficient to keep the cavern free from ice.  The ground above the cave is peculiarly rich in grass.

In explanation of these phenomena, Bell threw out the following suggestions, which need no comment.  The earth being of itself cold and damp, the external heat of the atmosphere, by partially penetrating into the ground, drives in this native cold to the inner parts of the earth, and makes the cold there more dense.  On the other hand, when the external air is cold, it draws forth towards the surface the heat there may be in the inner part of the earth, and thus makes caverns warm.  In support and illustration of this view, he states that in the hotter parts of Hungary, when the people wish to cool their wine, they dig a hole 2 feet deep, and place in it the flagon of wine, and, after filling up the hole again, light a blazing fire upon the surface, which cools the wine as if the flagon had been laid in ice.  He also suggests that possibly the cold winds from the Carpathians bring with them imperceptible particles of snow, which reach the water of the cave, and convert it into ice.  Further, the rocks of the Carpathians abound in salts, nitre, alum, &c., which may, perhaps, mingle with such snowy particles, and produce the ordinary effect of the snow and salt in the artificial production of ice.

Townson[100] visited this cave half a century later, and concluded that Bell was in error with regard to the supposed winter thaw and summer frost, although he himself received information at Kaschau which corroborated the earlier account.  He describes the approach to the village of Szilitze as leading by a by-road through a pleasant country of woods and hills, with much pasture-land, the cave lying a mile beyond the village, and displaying an entrance 100 feet broad, and 20 or 30 feet high, turned towards the north.  The descent of the floor of the cave is rapid, and was covered with thin ice, at the time of his visit,

Project Gutenberg
Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook