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Ohio Valley 80

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OHIO VALLEY 80. Location and climate.

—The Ohio Valley region (Fig. 21) has three sides. What regions bound it? The summer is much like that of the neighboring regions,—warm with fre quent rains—a good cli mate for crops. The winter is a mixture of Corn Belt winter and Cotton Belt winter. One day the warm south wind blows up from the Gulf, and a warm rain falls. The birds sing, the grass begins to grow, and it seems almost like spring. The next day a cold wind rushes in from the north, the ground freezes, and you think you are in Canada, so sudden is the change. Why is this winter weather so very changeable, with its mixture of warm waves and rains, cold waves and snow? (Sec. 70.) The snow rarely lies on the ground very long at a time.

81. Surface.—If the Ohio Valley were as level as the Prairie Corn and Small Grain Belt, it would be a part of it, for corn is also the chief crop of the Ohio Valley. Hills make the chief point of difference between it and its northern neighbor. The surface of nearly all the valley is composed of hills so steep that districts. As wool and rubber are light and easy to carry they can readily be imported.

roads do not run due north and south or east and west, as they do in the Corn Belt; instead they go in the valleys and around the hills where it was easier to build them. The place at the north, where the level land ends and the hills begin, is the place where the glacier stopped (Sec. 52). The hills were carved out by streams running to the Ohio River.

Originally there were a few grassy plains where deer and buffalo pastured, but most of the Ohio Valley was covered with glorious forests. In this region of fertile soils and plentiful rains, walnut, poplar, oak, and pecan trees grow to great size, the trunks sometimes reaching a diameter of six feet, and a height of a hun dred feet or even more.

82. Men and hills.—How have men made a living in this hilly country? In many places they cleared the forest, plowed the hill sides, and planted corn, just as was done in the Corn Belt. Thundershowers came (Sec. 71). Deluges of rain fell. Water rushing down hillsides carried the soft earth out of the plowed fields, and left deep, gaping gullies on the hillsides. This in many places

has so ruined farms near the Ohio River that land will not sell for a quarter as much, nor does it produce a quarter as much, as the level land a hundred miles to the north.

In some of the hilly sections of Kentucky and Tennessee, the people have what they call " throwed-out land ", a term which means that corn or tobacco was raised on the hill sides until the ground became too poor and too much gullied to raise another good crop. The exhausted land is allowed to lie idle for a few years, growing up in weeds and bushes. It is then cleared again and cultivated; but the soil is poorer and more gullied than it was before. In some places all except the rock has been washed away, and cultivation is impossible. Unfortunately land is often thus mistreated not only in the Ohio Valley, but in the Cotton Belt also, and in other parts of our country and in foreign countries.

In the upper part of the valley the farmers of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia have found a better way to use their hills. Instead of plowing them, they allow thick grass to grow. With its roots it holds the earth in place, and with its tops it pastures many flocks of sheep. This section has prospered and has become famous for its merino sheep, a Spanish breed, producing heavy fleeces of long, fine, soft wool. (Figs. 84, 627.) In parts of southern Ohio the farmers are now able to grow apples on their hills with out gullying and ruining the land. Some years ago a professor in the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station found some orchards on hills where the land had become so poor that the trees would not grow an inch a year, or produce any fruit. He fed each of the trees with a few handfuls of nitrate of soda, which is a commercial fertilizer, rich in nitrogen. Then the trees fairly jumped, and sent out twigs a foot and a half long the first season. The next year they bore fruit. Now hun dreds of acres of these grass-covered hills are dark green in summer 'with the healthy leaves of well-fed apple trees. In the autumn the trees are heavy with fruit.

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