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PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY OF THE
OF THE UNITED STATES.
SITUATION AND EXTENT. Tar United States, stretching from the Ailantic to the Pacific, and from 490 north lati. tude to 24° 80' souih latitude, comprise nearly the whole of the mild and warcu temperate pgions of North America, and thus embrace ihe must attractive portions of the grand di. vision. The grea'est length of the counóry, from north to south, is ne:irly 2,400 miles ; the greatest breaoth, from east to west, about 1,700 miles. Ils arra is very nearly 3,000,000 square miles, or but little less than ibat of the entire surface of Europe.
SEA-COASTS, ETC. In external form this country is remarkably compact, presenting no great peninsula ex. cept that of Florida, and being penetrated far inlund by no great arm of the sea. Owing, however, to the presence of the Gulf of Mexico on the south, and the oblique directions of the Atlantic and Pacific shores, it has un ample development of coast, and enjoys abundant maritime advantages.
The Atlantic coast and Gulf coast are varied hy numerous small inlets and hy several bays of corsi erable ex ent; so that the total length of the former, includi'g its windings, is nearly 6.900 miles, and of tho laiter nearly 3,500 miles. The Pacific coast, on the con. trary, is more unifirm; the mountain rangig which run parallel to it, or extind along its borders—in ma'y parts trenching close on the sea, and presentivg a bluff, iron-bound shore ; while only at two points do they open for the access of far-invading wat-rs, the narrow inlcts of Puget Sound and San Francisco Bay. The whole length of the Pacific coast, therefire, is but little over 2,300 miles, or only two thirds as great as that of the Gulf coast
On the north the United States have no sea-coast; but nearly equivalent to this are the shores of the Great Lakes, which, although remarkably uniform-affording fw harbors except at the mouths of the rivers have a total length (including their insular lines) of about 8,600 miles.
Thus the entire shores of this country, bordered by great bodies of water, are not far from £6,000 miles in length, or about four fl'ths as long as the winding sea.coast of Europe, the most maritime of the grand divisions of the globe.
bold and irregular, and causes the presenco of many rocky islands along its border. I abounds, therefore, in deep and well-sheltered harbors which afford superior facilities for commercial intercourse. This character is especially marked on the coast of Maine.
From the Hudson River, southward, the Atlantic lowlands are divided into two principal sections: one, a low plain, borderin: the sea, and bounded on the west by a rocky terrace krown as “The Ridge;" the other, a hilly region, gradually increasing in ruggedness toward the Alleghanies.
The surface of the plain is wavy in the interior, but flat and frcquently marshy over a considerable breadth olong the seahoard. Owing to the flatness of the latter secti..n, it has gently sloping und comparatively regular shores, bordered by shallow waters, and affording but few good harbors. Being of an alluvi.I character, moreover, it is skirted to a great extent by long low islands formed of the accumulated sediment deposited between the spreading currents of the rivers and the inflowing tides of the ocean, In some parts these islands afford but few inlets to the narrow bays or channels which separate them from the mainland. Shitting sand-bars, also, frequently obstruct the inlets or the mouths of the rivers byond, thus rendering access to the latter comparatively difficult.
The width of the maritime plair: varies from Afiy to one hundred miles, except in tho northern part of New Jersey, where it is much narrower. The larger rivers cros-ing this plain are generally navigable to the foot of “The l'idge," over which the waters descend in abropt falls or rapids. These falls are among the most important geographical features of this part of the United States, since, by arresting the progress of navigation and supe plyin: extensive water-power, they have given rise, in their vicinities, to a chain of largo commercial and manufacturing towns and cities—such as Newark, Trenton, Baltimore, Georgetown, Richmond, Petersburg, Raleigh, Augusta, and Macon,—which extends, on the line of " The Ridge,” through seven of the Atlantic States.
The Peninsula of Florida, lying between the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, is wholly embraced in the maritime plain, and to a great extent is flat and marshy.
The Gulf Lowlands are merely a continuation of the Atlan'ic Lowlands. Last of the basin of the Mississippi they are divided, like the latter, into a hilly interior section and a level or wavy coastwise section by a somewhat ill-defined prolongation of the Ridge, through Georgia and Alabama, into Mississippi. Their limit on the north is quite irregular, being forined by the extremities of the plateau and higher ranges of the Appalachian System and by the watershed which separates the basin of tho Tombigbee River from that of the Tennessee. The breadth of these lowlands is seldom less than 250 miles, or more than 300 miles Their most distinguishing characteristics are the well-marked valley's which furrow the billy regions at intervals from north to south, or from northeast to southwest, and the high ranges of bluffs which border the upper courses of several of the rivers
West of the basin of the Mississippi the Gulf Lowlands are almost wholly occupied by the maritime plain. They vary in breadth from 150 to nearly 800 miles, and, except a fat coa ise belt covering about one Afth of this breadth, are an extensive undulating prairie.
The Appalachian Mountain System consists of two principal sections, separated from each other by a well-marked depression in the basin of the Iludson River und vicinity, and gradua iy rising thence to their culminating point in the north and south,
The northern sertion is the most irr«gular, embracing, besides its principal ranges and groups, numerous peaks scattered over a wide area, especially in Maine and New Hampshire. It reaches its greatest elevation in the wild and romantic group of the White Mountains, the sublime seenery of which is fumiliar to travelers from all parts of the world.
The plateau, or broken series of table-lands which belongs to ihis section, has a rugged outline, and presents but little area except of a hilly or mountainous character.
The southern section of the Appalachian System consists of two parallel zones of eleve. tion : the eastern zone, composed of successive ranges rising one after the other toward the interior; the western, divided from the former by a broad plateau-like valley, and consisting of adjacent table-lands or high plains, wrinkled here and there with longitudinal ranges of hills.
In the northern half of this section, most of the ranges are “ remarkable for their regu. larity, their parallelism, their abrupt acclivities, the almost complete uniformity of their summits, and their moderate elevation. They present the appearance of long and continuous walls, the blue summits of which trace along the horizon a uniform line seldom varied by any peaks or crags."
Advancing southward, however, their clevation increases, the ranges become indented, irregular, and more numerous ; until, in North Carolina, “the form of simple parallel ridges” disappears, and, in place of this, we have a broad mountain-tract, ibickly and often irregularly studded with lotty peaks. lcre, in all respects, is the culminating region of the Appalachian System. Scores of summits rise to a height of 6,000 feet, while the loftiest -Black Dome or Mitchell's IIigh Peak, in the group of the Black Mountains-bas an aliitude of 0,711 feet, being the highest point of land cast of the Mississippi River.
South of North Carolina, the mountains gradually sink into low hills, and the ranges terminate in northern Georgia and Alabama.
The Plateau of the Alleghanies, or southern plateau of the Appalachian System, is traversel by ranges of hills running parallel with the mountain chain of which it forms the basis. Between the Blue Ridge on the east and the Alleybanies and Cumberland Mountains on the wes', it consists of a spacious valley, embracing level tracts of consider. able area, which extends 'hrough Penns: lvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Tennessee. Tho average elevation of the plateau is scarcely 1,600 feet, but in southern Virginia it reaches a height of 2,000 feet and upward.
The lowlands of the Great Central Plain, in the castern part, are somewhat broken by the descending terraces of the Appalachian highlands and by the low ranges of mount. ains or hil's which border the same. West of this, they present a vast level or undulating tract, reaching far beyond the Mississippi.
NAVIGABLE INLAND WATERS. But notwithstanding the compact figure of the United States, or the fact that none of the great bodies of water which surround it penetrate far toward the heart of the country,-its patural fucilities for water communication are by no means chiefly confined to its borders. Nor in scurcely any part, except the southwest, is it very difficult of interual access without the aid of artificial channels.
The Mississippi River, with its numerous tributaries ramifying like a vast arterial system through the interior, opens not less than 15,000 miles of naviga" le water-ways The main stream of the Missouri-Mississipi may be ascended in lighi-draft steamers from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Falls of the Missouri, or nearly to the foot of the Rocky Mountains. On the Pacific side of the mountains, the Columbia River may be ascended in like manner to the Ca.cadis; so that the distance between the heads of steamboat navigation on the two streams is only 450 miles.
The Ohio River-The great eastern tributary of the Mississippi-is open to steam' navi. gation as far as Pittsburg, in western Pennsylvania, or to within 200 miles of the head of natural navigation on the Potomac River.
Accordingly, one may pa-s through the heart of the country, from the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific, without an overland journey of more than a few hundred miles.
The same easy natural means of communication appear in other directions. The journey from the Gulf of Mexico 10 the Great Lakes may be accomplished in steamers by way of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers to within a hundred miles of the head of Lake Michigan. In like manner one may pass from the remotest extremity of the Great Lakes to the Atlantic by way of the St. Lawrence and other connecting streams, aided only at a few points by canals to circumvent the rapids.
Easy communication also may be had between New York-the great commercial metropolis of the country-and tho St. Lawrence, by way of the Hudson River, joined by a sbort canal to Lake Champlain and its outlct, the Sorelle.
The nuaber of navigable channels extending inland from the coast to distances Varying from near a hundred miles to 300 or moro - as the lower courses of the Delaware Piver, the James, Cape Fear, Savannah, Appalachicola, Alabama, Colorado, and Rio Grandeare too numerous to be mentioned
On the Pacific borders of the country, however, the extent of navigable streams is quite limited, owing to the near approach of the mount ins to the coast, and the fact that they seldom open for the outlet of large rivers from tho interior,
GENERAL SURFACE OF THE COUNTRY. Passing from east to west, the surfice of the United States presents eight principal sec. tions, viz, the lowlands which border the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, the Appalachian Mountain System and its associate plateaus, the lowlands of the Great Central Plain, the Western steppes, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Western Plateau, the Pacific maritime chain of mountains, an:I the Pacific coast region.
The Al'antic loa lands vary in breadth froin 50 to 200 or 230 miles.
In the New England States they are seldom more than 100 miles wide, and, except in muiheastern Massachusetts, gemer:lly present a somewhat hilly surface, diversified with pumcrous lakes and ponds. The abundance of these sheets of water in some parts of Muine and New Hamp-hire renders the scenery remarkably picturesqu«, the country as viewed from the lofty hill-tops seeming litera ly begemmed with their mirror-like surfaces. The prevailing unevenness of the maritime region of New England renders the coast
PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY OF THE UNITED STATES.
This almost unvarying oxpanso is made up in great part of hulf wooded and pen Those in tho eastern hall of the country aro ostima.od to cover an ad ot not lou that prairies-che latter, or true prairies, being most common in Illinois and in the States lying 225,000 square miles-nearly equal to tho whole of the Western States north of the Ohio west of the Mississippi, and reaching as far south as the Ozark Mountains. In many seo- River and east of the Mississippi. The principal ono extends along tho western border tions, however, the landscape is agreeably varied by woody bottorn-lands bordering tho of the Appalachian highiands, from New York to Alabama, covering nearly 100,000 squaro rivers, and bounded on each side generally by steep acclivities or lines of bluffs.
miles. Another, more than half as large, occupies south western Indiana and most of Illi. Along many of the larger rivers the bottom-lands are of considerable breadth. Thoso nois ; another, of great extent, occurs in Missouri and lowa; and another, of several of the Missouri, for instance, are Ave miles wide. But the bottom-lands of the Mississippi thousand square miles, in Michigan. below its junction with the Missouri are most remarkable for breadth, being frequently Most of the coal derived from these aclds is of a bituminous character. In some parts from forty to fifty miles wide, while the bluffs which border them are in some places two of the coal regions, especially tho northern portion of tho Appalachian Beld, springs of or three hundred feet high.
petroleum or rock-oil abound, the recent discovery and opening of which has proved of Here and there the marginal fats are penetrated by creeks or bayous, and interspersed immense value in cheapening supplies for illuminating and other economical purposes with swamps or lagoons. Winding through them, the rivers pursue a variable and un- An extensive bed of anthracite coal, which affords most of the fuel for the cities of the certain cou sc; the force of their currents, when deviated by slight obstacles, often wear. Atlantic slope, exists in Pennsylvania, between the Blue Ridge and eastern branch of the ing away the soft alluvial banks until an entire new channel has been gained. Thus, in Susquehannah. some places, the whole breadth of the bottom-land is brought on one side of tho stream: Salt springs are common along the western border of the Appalachian highlands and while, on the opposite side, the river runs close to the bluffs, or even undermines them. in the dry regions beyond the Mississippi. In Louisiana an extensive bed of rock-salt has
The lower Mississippi is especially noted for its crooked and variable course. Somo been recently discovered, and numerous beds of like character are belioved to exist in tho of its bends, where the infervening neck is only one mile across, are thirty miles around. great table-lands of the West, especially where the systems of drainage are imperfect Channels called cut-offs have been opened across several of these, making an important saving in the navigable distance of the river
SOIL But although the general character of the Lowlands of the Great Plain is that of a level or The soil of the United States, except of the great table-land belt west of the 100th me. undulating tract, they include several regions besides that along the eastern border, which ridian, is in general remarkably fertile. Nowhere else in the temperate zones is there a present a marked variety of surface. Among these, the most uneven is the billy tract, em- region of equal extent which rivals in productiveness tho eastern half of this country. Tho bracing the Ozark Mountains, which extend from the interior of Missouri into the north- fertility of 80 great an area is due not only to its favorable mineral character in most parte, west corner of Arkansas, and the neighboring border of Indian Territory. Much of but also to an ample full of rain over its whole surface, and to its immense level tracts Minnes,ta, also, with the northern part of Wisconsin and the peninsula between Lako suited to the retention of moisture, and which in the lapse of ages have become overspread Superior and Lake Michigan are comparatively rugged. The scenery of these northern to an extraordinary depth with vegetable mold. regions is rendered peculiarly attractive by the myriads of lakes embosomed in their val- This fertility, however, is not without exception. Most of New England and of leys, and the numerous water-falls wbich break the peaceful currents of their rivers. New York, north of the Mohawk River, has a thin and stony boil, of inferior produc.
The Western Stepp 8, embracing the table-land section of the Great Central Plain, con- Jiveness,-being formed upon the older and harder rock-such as granite, gneiss, sists mainly of a succession of terraces, genórally presenting abrupt edges to the east, and
But owing to the ruggedness of these regions, many of tho valleys, and rising one above the other, with gentle slopes, to the Rocky Mountains.
especially the low tracts along the rivers, are amply enriched with alluvial deposits In many places, especially at the south, the rivers crossing these terraces flow through washed down from the hillsides, and thus are rendered well deserving of cultivation. A canons, or derp and narrow defles, which at the borders of the terraces, in some instances, great part of the surface, however, is better suited to grazing than to agriculture. extend several hundred feet below the general surface.
The low coastwise plain also which extends from the mouth of the Hudson River to tho The mean height of the Beppes, between the Arkansas River and the upper Missouri, Rio Grande is, to a great extent, sandy and sterile; but in many sections it contains beds is about 4,000 feet; but, along the base of the Rocky Mountains, from the Llano Estacado
of marl and other fertilizing earths which may be used to render it productive. The to the upper Missouri it is not less than 5,000 fect, or, in many parts, more than one mile. swamp-lands, moreover, which abound along the coast, are in many parts susceptiblo
The Rocky Mountains, entering the United States from British America, gradually of drainage and cultivation ; and their vicinities, as well as the borders of the rivers, proexpand cast and west, until the chain attains a breadth of from 200 to 300 miles. The
sent alluvial tracts of superior richness. mountain region is made up partly of distinct ranges, an | partly of peaks irregularly dis- The region of the Alleghanies is of course inferior in fertility to the level or undulating pused, frequenily with broad level valleys between. The height of the mountains, except lowlands of the Mississippi valley ; yet the hilly country, in most parts, abundantly ro. in New Mexico, often exceeds 10,000 feet above the sea, and in several instances 14,000 feet: wards cultivation, while the long Appalachian valley contains some of the best farming but owing to the elevation of the table-land region that forms their basis, and which in some lands in the United States. Jarls has a height of 7,000 feet, their aliitudo, is murh less imposing than it would otherwiso The general character of the table-land region west of the 100th meridian-comprising appear Indeed few of the mountains lift their snowy crests more than a mile above the the Western Steppes and Great Western Plateau—is that of marked sterility. This is duo Deighboring surfa c; and at intervals, ia many cases of not more than 50 or 100 miles, the mainly to the lack of rain, especially during summer; but in some parts the natural concbain is broken by passes, affording more or less practicable routes for travel.
stitution of the soil is also unfavorable to productiveness. The Great Westen Plateau presents a varied surface, consisting of elevated plains Nepr the mountains, however, and in the bottom-lands along the rivers, there are many traversed by mountain ranges, with numerous broad valleys and terraced slopes.
tracts suited to cultivation, while the neighboring sections generally support a plentiful herb. Sou'h and east of the Great Basin it is intersected in many parts by cations ; some of age and are well adapted to grazing. But more remote from these regions, except along them formed apparently by a violent sundering of the rocky strata whose ragged edges the castern border, the plains are sıríkingly barren ; and the hollows in some parts aro make up their almost perpendicular walls; others, by the slow wearing away of their covered with a saline or alkalino crust, caused by want of drainage and by the evaporation beds by the s reams which traverse them. Many of these canons are of the most startling of water which collerts in them se m the neighboring slopes, and thus is impregnated with character. On some sections of the upper Colorado they are over a mile in depth, and so the soluble matter of their soil. Nearer the mountains, where the supply of water is somenarrow at the top that the beams of the vertical sun scurcely irradiate the fearful chasm. what more abundant, there are m:iny salt pools. Tho valleys known as Parks, between
The surface of the Great Plateau also is strikingly diversified in the south by elevated the parallel ranges of tho Rocky Mountains, are remarkable for their beauty and fertility. tables termed mésas (ma'sahs), the abrupt edges of which, in many instances, are scarcely The Pacific coast-region is distinguished for the highly fertile intervals between its less precipitous than the rocky walls of the canons.
mountain spurs, which, owing to the peculiar favorableness of the climate, are almost The maritime chain of mountains which forms tho western boundary of this plateau is unrivaled in their capacity for producing the smaller cercals, root-crops, and fruit. South in many parts bigher than the Rocky Mountains. Unlike the latter, however, it rarely of Monterey Bay, however, the country is somewhat arid ; and in many parts, especially takes on a plateau-like form, but consists mainly of parallel ridges rising to a great alti. where facilities for irrigation are scanty, is better suited to grazing than tillage. tude above their base, and including numerous snow-capped peaks. These ranges aro generally sharp, and are peculiarly abrupt on the western slope. But notwithstanding
VEGETATION. their height, they are sundered at several points by transverse valleys which afford outlets Owing to the great extent of its well-watered and fertile plaids, this country is peculiarly to the principal rivers.
rich in its vegetation. The Pacific coast region consists chiefly of narrow valleys opening toward the sea It is especially distinguished for the extent and variety of its forests. Nearly the wholo
ea tern section, from tho Mississippi to the Atlantic, is, in its native state, richly wooded. MINERALS.
The western or Pacific slope, on the other hand, from the northern boundary b) about The mineral resources of this country surpass those of any other known section of the the 40th parallel, except in the more arid districts, is also clothed with one forests, and globe. Deposits of all the principal metals except tin are found here in great abundance still farther south presents luxuriant wooded tracts along the maritime border. and richness; and those of less important metals to such extent as warrants the belief that A marked contrast, however, appears between the forests of the east and west. In tho they are not less plentifully distributed than in other countries.
north, an extensive belt, chiefly of white pine, of great economic value, reaches from tko The western part of the Unised States seems almost to realize the extravagant antici. Mississippi valley to the Atlantic, its southern limit being in about the latitude of the pation of the early adventurers who visited America in search of the mythical El Dorado. northern shore of Lake Ontario. Its gold-fields are the most spacious and productive in the world, and its newly-discovered South of this belt, as far as to a little below tho mouth of the Ohio River and Chess silver regions in the south also are of unusual extent and richiness.
peake Bay, the forests are mainly of deciduous trces. These forests are remarkably Iron is very widely disseminated. Indeed, there is scarcely a State or Territory in the mixed ; comprising maple, beech, oak, chestnut, hickory, ash, elın, birch, cherry, bass. national domain where it may not be mined in sullcient quantity for future wunts.
wood, buckeye, etc., etc. In the richness of their foliage, as variegated by autumnal tinis, Note.-For further information concerning the metallic products of this country, see they are probably unrivaled in any section of the globe. pages 106, 107.
Entering the warmer latitudes below the last-mentioned limit,* foliaceous or broad. But the coal-fields of the United States are among its richest possessions, both on ac- leaved evergreens become common, and vegetation in general assumes a sub-tropical count of their unrivaled extent, and of the situation of several in the midst of vast level regions where the supplies they afford will prove of inestimable value for purposes of
* This limit nearly coincides with the northern boundaries of Tennessee and North steam manufacture.
character. Live-oaks appons along the Atlantic const; oypress and gum trees grow Cotton flourishes chiedy south of the 85th parallel, in the States north of the Gulf of Mos numorous; and soon the characteristic region of magnolias and laurel is reached.
ico, or bordering the Atlantic. The dry lowlands of the Atlantic and Gulf slopes are overspread, to a great extent, Tobacco has its most profitable rango between the 86th and 40th parallels (Soo thisrango with the long-leafed pitcb-pine, one of the most picturesque and valuable timber trees on tho map.) of this section,
The potato is a characteristic product of the northern portion of the country, particu. Among other characteristic forms are the southern cotton-wood, catalpa, bumelias, pal- larly of New England and the Middle States; also of the Pacido slope west of the Cascade metto, persimmon, and Chickasaw plum. Various species of oak, maple, beech, etc., Range and Sierra Nevada. abound in the uplands and elsewhere
The batatas or sweet potato thrives in the warmer regions In the Peninsula of Florida, vegetation is more tropical. Mangroves appear in exten. Sugar-cane appears to have found only a few limited sections where it is a preferablo sive thickets; several characteristic fruits, among which is the Florida orange, are intro- crop, its culture thus far having been confined chiefly to that part of Louisiana projecting duced ; and various straggling forms from the neighboring zone become more or less south of Mississippi. prevalent
The portions of the United States well suited to the production of hay-crops or to grazing It is evident from the foregoing that the forests of the eastern part of the United States are of immense area. Throughout the fertile districts, except in the warmer parts of the are remarkable not only for their extent, but also for their variety. In fact, they have" Southern States, the unplowed fields are overspread with a rich carpet of verdure which parallel for the diversity of species collected in a growth of trunks of nearly the same size, affords excellent pasturage during the warm months, or yields a valuable harvest for winter and thriving on the same soil and in the same climate.”
store. The profitableness of the latter may be inferred from its ranking third in valuo The western slope of the country presents a vegetation strikingly dissimilar to that of the among the crops of the country, being surpassed in this respect only by corn and cotton. castern. On the Pacific side, deciduous trees are decidedly repelled, and the number The dry table-lands, also, except in the most arid districts, afford good grazing during of their species is comparatively few.
a large part of the year; and in many localities where the grass is somewhat abundant, of the leading forms prevalent in the eastern forests, the following are entirely absent the summer drought causes it to cure or become hay while standing in the field ; so that In the western ; viz., magnolias, bass-wood, locust, and other pod-bearing trees, elms, wal- ample pasturage is afforded (the snow being light) through all or nearly all winter. nuts, hickories, beeches, etc. The chestnut is represented merely by a single species, and the maples by only one or two small forms.
ANIMALS. Cone-bearing trees, on the contrary, except in the arid districts, are particularly favored, The northern border of the United States is embraced in the district of fur-bearing anl*affording the finest evergreen forests known in the temperate latitudes. Many of these mals, and the forest tracts of the northeast and northwest contain various species which are trees, in the moist and equable climates near the Pacific, are of gigantic size; their height much sought by the hunter and trapper. The most important on account of their furs aro and vastness of trunk striking the beholder with astonishment
the otter, beaver, mink or American sable, marten, and musk-rat. There are also found The pine family, especially, are remarkable in this respect. Among these, the Douglas in the same range the black bear, wolverine, Canada lynx, bay lynx or wild-cat, and woll spruce, the sugar-pine, & species of yellow pine, and the balsam-fir tower to a height Several of the above, however, as the Canada otter, black bear, and wild-cat, likewise of over 200 feet. A species of wbite cedar, also, has a similar size.
dwell far south. The moose-deer exists in the extreme northeast. But the majestic redwood family surpass all others. The common redwood grows to an The eastern forest regions are inhabited by the common American deer, the American elk altitude of from 180 to 800 feet, often with a thickness of 10 or 12 feet; while the giant red- or stag (now very rare in this section), the Virginia opossum, raccoon, etc. The common wood (confined to a single small locality in California) reaches the wonderful height American deer likewise frequents the grassy regions of the Great Central Plain. of from 300 to 400 feet and a diameter of from 20 to 30 feet. Theso trees have no rivals in But in general the prairies have a fauna somewhat peculiar. Their most noted habitant the existing vegetable kingdom.
is the American bison or buffalo, which roams in vast herds over the unfrequented tracts Among the latter species, there is a single prostrate trunk (known as the Monarch of the west of the Mississippi. The prairie-wolf, also, is especially characteristic of these plains. Forest), the top of which has been partly destroged-probably by fre—which measures Upon the plateaus and within the Rocky Mountain district the American elk is again 86 feet in diameter at the butt, and 110 feet in circumference. The length of the whole found; and in the same range the mule-deer, prong-buck, American badger, etc. portions of the trunk is 300 feet, and the diameter at the small end 12 feet. From frag- The mountain sides are inhabited by the Rocky Mountain goat and big-horned sheep, tho menis in a line with the main sten), and apparently belonging to it, it is estimated that its latter roving throughout the rugged highlands from the Western Steppes to the Pacific. full height when standing must have been from 450 to 600 feet.
The species already mentioned as belonging to the prairies are found both east and west Turning our attention to a different field, it may be observed that notwithstanding the of the Rocky Mountains. It must be remembered, however, that, as a whole, the saunas on vast extent of forests in this country, there are immense areas nearly or quite destitute opposite sides of this chain are different. Thus part of the ruminants, the gnawers, tho of trees. of this character are the dry regions of the Great Western Plateau and nearly insects, and all the mollusks are of distinct species. the whole of the Steppes, except the bottom-lands along the rivers. of the same descrip; From the foregoing it will be observed that most of the principal ruminants are found tion, also, is a large part of the Mississippi lowlands, extending from the Steppes to the west of the Mississippi, where the unfrequented grassy plains afford them abundant sube northwest corner of the Gulf of Mexico, and farther north, invading the central portion sistence. The range of several, however, formerly extended much farther east-the bul of the Mississippi valley nearly as far as the middle course of the Ohio River.
falo, for instance, having been known even upon some parts of the Atlantic coast. These treeless regions are called prairies. They are covered, for the most part, with * The largest and most powerful of American carnivora—the grizzly bear-has a similar coarse grass, intermixed on the table-lands-in the warm-temperate and cool regions -- range with the above, preying upon those whom feebleness or want of deetness renders with deep-rooted shrubs, as the artemisia (inappropriately called sage*), and–in the sub- unable to escape. His chief home, however, is the oak and pine regions of the Western tropical and tropical regions—with similar shrubs and thick-leafed juicy plants, such as slope, where he finds an agreeable subsistence of acorns and pine cones as well as deska the cactus and yucca (or Spanish bayonet).
The puma or cougar (known also as the panther or American lion, but unlike either the The absence of trees on the table-lands is doubtless owing chiefly to the dryness of the lion or panther of the Old World) frequents the same range as the grizzly bear; and, to a climate and the consequent aridity of the soil.
greater or less extent, wanders through nearly all the unsettled parts of the country, In the less elevated regions of the Mississippi valley it may be partly due to the same The United States is frequented by a great number and variety of migratory birds, the cause and partly to the extraordinary depth of the soil, which in many places probably principal of which are wild geese, ducks, and pigeons. The wild turkey is common in th. renders the proportion of moisture retained ncar the surface insufficient for the support lowlands of the Mississippi valley. of a forest growth. But the treeless character of these plains is believed to be mainly The principal birds of prey are various species of eagles, hawks, owls, and buzzardo. owing to their visitation in former years by sweeping fires, which are peculiarly liable to The turkey-buzzard, in particular, is numerous in the southeast, where it frequents even originate on the dry grassy table-lands, and spread eastward as far as local conditions permit. tbe populous settlements, and serves as a valuable scavenger.
The United States possesses a numerous assemblage of interesting grasses. Among the The most noted reptiles are turtles, alligators, and rattlesnakes. Alligators Infest the most remarkable is the tree-like cane, which forms extensive brakes or thickets along the rivers, marshes, etc., of the warm regions in the east and southeast; their range extending Gulf of Mexico and in the moist alluvial lands on the borders of the rivers and elsewhere as far north on the coast of South Carolina as latitude 32° 30, throughout the South. So dense are these brakes in many sections that they are absolutely llere, as elsewhere, noxious insects abound in the heated districts. Mosquitoes, espo. impenetrable except with the aid of the hatchet.
cially, are an annoying pest, being so numerous about the rivers and marshes in somo The adaptation of the United States to the production of different agricultural staples parts of the south as to render the vicinity uninhabitable, varles to a remarkable degree with i1s soil and climate In respect to several staples, it The coasts of this country are well supplied wito fish. Cod, haddock, mackerel, bor holds a rank at:ained by no other country. Its capacity for yielding breadstuffs in the ring, halibut, etc., are abundant. The inland waters are likewise well stocked; white-fish North and cotton in the South is unrivaled, while its suitableness to the growth of tobacco abound in the Great Lakes; and pike, trout, perch, etc., are common in both the largo in the middle latitudes probably surpasses that of any other region of equal area.
and small bodies of water. The more hardy cereals (maize, wheat, oats, rye, and barley) flourish throughout the
CONCLUSIONS. agricultural sections. Maize, however, is the most characteristic staple, and by far the From the foregoing account of the physical geography of the United States, it is obvious most important. It grows most luxuriantly in the Southern and Western States, and is that this country possesses within itself the natural resources for an extraordinary maten of especial importance in the central portion of the Mississippi valley. In the inariume rial prosperity. The remarkable fertility of its soil; the unequaled richness of its mineral region of the Pacific, however, it thrives less successfully, and in many localities fails to deposits; the ample facilities for manufactures afforded by the numerous rapid streams mature, owing to the prolonged drought and cool nights of summer.
which descend from the uplands along its coasts, or by the inexhaustible supplies of Wheat and oats, which rank second and third in importance among cultivated cereals, coal distributed through its interior ; and the extraordinary advantages for commerco grow best in the valleys along the Pacific, in the Western States north of the Missouri and presented not only by its extensive coast line and its vast network of inland waters, but also Ohio rivers, and in the Middle States and those of the Southern States adjoining the latter. by its broad plains easily crossed by railways or trenched by canals—all combine to render The yield of these grains per acre, however, is most abundant in the two former sections, it of surpassing fitness for the abode of man.
Rice finds a congenial locality in the marshy tracts along the southern seaboard, par. Hence, peopled in the main by a highly cultivated race, the varieties of which are fast ticularly in South Carolina and Georgia.
becoming intermixed here, and thus are producing an unusually vigorous stock, it remains Artemisia-tridentata. Many parts of the table-lands, overspread with this plant, are
only to develop these resources under a just and wise policy in order to attain a national termed "sage plains."
greatness unparalleled in history.