The Giant, in the Upper Geyser Basin, has a peculiar crater, which has been likened to the stump of a hollow sycamore tree of gigantic proportions, whose top has been wrenched off by a storm. This curious cup is broken down at one side, as though it had been torn away during an eruption of more than ordinary violence, and on this side the visitor is able to look into the crater, if he can contrive to avoid the jets which are constantly spouted from it. The periods of rest which it takes are varied, an eruption often not occurring for several days at a time; yet when it breaks out it continues playing for more than three hours, with a volume of water reaching a height of from 130 to 140 feet. In the interval little spouts are constantly in progress. Mr. Stanley saw one eruption which he calculated to have shot a column of water to the height of more than 200 feet. At first it seemed as though the geyser was only making a feint, the discharge which preceded the great one being merely repeated several times, followed by a cessation both of the rumbling noises and of the ejection of water. But soon, after a premonitory cloud of steam, the geyser began to work in earnest, the column discharged rising higher and higher, until it reached the altitude mentioned.
“At first it appeared to labor in raising the immense volume, which seemed loath to start on its heavenward tour; but it was with perfect ease that the stupendous column was held to its place, the water breaking into jets and returning in glittering showers to the basin. The steam ascended in dense volumes for thousands of feet, when it was freighted on the wings of the winds and borne away in clouds. The fearful rumble and confusion attending it were as the sound of distant artillery, the rushing of many horses to battle, or the roar of a fearful tornado. It commenced to act at 2 P. M., and continued for an hour and a half, the latter part of which it emitted little else than steam, rushing upward from its chambers below, of which, if controlled, there was enough to run an engine of wonderful power. The waving to and fro of such a gigantic fountain, when the column is at its height,
‘Tinselled o’er in robes of varying hues,’
and glistening in the bright sunlight, which adorns it with the glowing colors of many a gorgeous rainbow, affords a spectacle so wonderful and grandly magnificent, so overwhelming to the mind, that the ablest attempt at description gives the reader who has never witnessed such a display but a feeble idea of its glory.”