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The Valleys of Cen Tral California 192

valley, san, fruit, water, winter, francisco and miles

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THE VALLEYS OF CEN TRAL CALIFORNIA 192. A large valley and four smaller valleys.—Look at the maps (Figs. 91, 163) and see how the wide val ley, called the Great Val ley, lies between the high Sierra Nevada on the east, and the Coast Ranges on the west. It is about four hun dred miles long and from fifty to sixty miles wide. Near San Francisco are four smaller valleys, all nestled in among the Coast Ranges. Find Santa Clara south of San Francisco, and Santa Rosa and Napa to the north of it, each in a valley of the same name.

The Salinas Valley, opening directly to the Pacific near Monterey, is the largest of the four smaller valleys. All the smaller valleys combined are not nearly so large as the Great Valley. Like Southern California, this part of the state was first settled by the Spaniards, and many places still have Spanish names. In recent years many peo ple from Europe and many eastern states have come to make their homes in this land of fertile soil and pleasant climate.

193. Climate.—All these California valleys have a very mild winter climate because the Sierra Nevada Mountains are high enough to shut off the cold winds of winter from the interior, and the Coast Ranges are low enough to let in the warmer winds that blow from the Pacific. (Sec. 158.) Thus the city of San Francisco passes winter after winter with out a single freezing day, yet in summer the daily sea wind is so cool and so constant that strangers from warm countries wear an overcoat even in August. While people are wearing their overcoats in San Francisco, the temperature of the Great Valley, only fifty miles away, is sometimes 100° in the shade. This is because the sea winds do not reach far into the Great Valley.

The rainfall, like that of Southern Califor nia, occurs in winter and not in summer. For this reason few crops, except wheat and barley, can be grown without irrigation. But the dryness of the summer helps the fruit industry, which is remarkably developed in the four valleys. Because the summer days are rainless, California fruit will dry in trays on the grolind, and for this reason California produces more dried fruit than all the rest of the United States. Many millions of dollars' worth is sent annually to eastern states, to Europe, and to other continents.

The dryness of the air makes the flesh of the fruit more firm than the flesh of fruit which grows in moist climates. For this reason California cherries will keep so well that they can reach New York City in better condition than can cherries grown in New York State. For the same reason the Cali fornia peach is so firm-fleshed that it can be quickly skinned for canning by dipping it into hot lye water, a process which turns an Eastern peach to mush. Hence canning peaches, in which she excels the eastern states, is one of the great industries of California.

194. The Great Valley of California is one of the important agricultural regions of the world; the amount of its production is steadily growing. This whole valley was once a large gulf, like the Gulf of California. But streams cut valleys into the mountains along the sides of the gulf, and carried down the sand and mud until the whole gulf was filled, except at the bay near San Francisco. This water-borne soil made the valley nearly level, fertile, and free from stones. Thus the land is easy to cultivate. Also it is very easy to irrigate, because the streams, in filling up the valley, have spread the earth out as streams do when they build deltas —in wide, fanlike slopes, called alluvial fans. (Figs. 171, 179, 183.) Most of these fans make very gentle slopes, which reach from the foot of the mountain down to the river in the valley. The irrigation canals can be built along the upper sides of the fields on the slopes, and, when the side gates are opened, the water will flow gently across the fields that lie below the canals.

The Kings River, flowing out of the Sierra, built its fan higher than did the other rives, and dammed the upper part of the San Joaquin River. The water above this dam is Lake Tulare, a lake without an outlet. In dry seasons its water is very low, and in wet seasons it rises and floods hundreds of square miles of land around its shores. Sometimes the farmers try to raise wheat on these muddy lands. If the water rises, the fields become a lake. If it does not rise, a rich crop may be harvested.

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