Imatges de pàgina

the sea to the distance of 100 miles, the country is low, flat, and abounding in swamps and stagnant marshes; the soil a mixture of loam, sand, and clay. Thence to the hills, 150 miles, the surface is uneven, gradually but irregularly rising, as it recedes from the coast to the Alleghany chain. The mountainous district is 100 miles in breadth ; beyond which, to the Ohio river, there is a regular succession of hills and vallies. In the western parts, and between the Blue and Alleghany ridges, it is a limestone country, with many caves, valuable for the quantity of saltpetre which they afford. The surface, at the falls of the rivers, is generally elevated from 150 to 200 feet above the tide. The shore, at Cape Henry, is but fifteen feet above high water mark. * The soil of the peninsula, between the Potomac and Rappahanoc rivers, is sandy, and in the county of Middlesex there are tracts unfavourable to vegetation ; but these are of no great extent, and the state in general, in point of soil, is highly favoured by nature. The banks of James river, and the intermediate surface to York river, are very fertile. Towards the West mountain, and between the Opechan creek and the Shenandoah, the line of country, for soil and climate, is far superior to that of the sea coast. In general, the fertile lands commence above the falls of the rivers. On the southern side of the mountains, vegetation commences earlier, and continues later than in other situations exposed to the action of the north-west winds. From tide-water to the Blue ridge, the principal productions are—Indian corn, wheat, tobacco, oats, hay, clover, &c. Beyond the great ridge of mountains, wheat, hemp, Indian corn, and pasture. It has been calculated, that three-fourths of the summits of the mountains are fertile and susceptible of cultivation. The alluvial soil extends as high as Richmond, where the teeth and bones of sharks and other animals have been dug up from the depth of seventy-one feet, in the excavation of wells.

* Latrobe, No. 68 of 4th vol. of Philosophical Transactions.

Caverns,—The most remarkable are Madison's Cave, on the north side of the Blue ridge, and Wier's Cave, in Augusta county, about fifteen miles from Staunton. The last, according to a description given of it in 1806, is half a mile in length, and contains more than twenty different apartments, some of which are 300 feet in length.

Temperature.— Virginia and Maryland lie between those parallels which include the finest climate in the old continent - Morocco, Fez, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Sicily, Naples, and the southern provinces of Spain. Mr Jefferson, in his Notes on Virginia, observes, that, proceeding on the same parallel of latitude westwardly, the climate becomes colder, till you reach the summit of the Alleghany ridge. Thence, descending to the Mississippi, the temperature again increases, and to such an extent, that the climate is several degrees warmer than in the same latitude on the shores of the Atlantic. This observation is confirmed by the phenomena of vegetation ; plants which thrive and multiply naturally in the western states, do not grow on the sea coast. In the summer of 1799, when the thermometer was at 90° at Monticello, and 96° at Williamsburgh, it was at 110° at Kaskaskia. * Of late years, snow does not lie below the mountains more than a few days, and the rivers seldom freeze. The heat of summer is also more moderate. The extremes of heat and cold at Monticello, according to the observations of Mr Jefferson, are 98° above and 6° below zero on Fahrenheit's scale. The average temperature of the mornings of May, the season of rapid vegetation, is about 63° of Fahrenheit. The mean annual temperature of Williamsburgh, in latitude 38°, according to the calculations of Baron Humboldt, is 14° 5' of the centigrade thermometer, (57°21'F.) The temperature is much influenced by the winds; those from the north and north-west bring cold and clear wea

those from the south-east haziness, moisture, and warmth. The pleasantest months are May and June; July and August are intensely hot, and September and October are generally rainy. The annual average quantity of rain at Williamsburgh was 47.038 inches. It is observed, that, as agriculture advances, and the swamps are drained, the climate becomes gradually milder ; and it is believed, that, at no very distant period, oranges and lemons may be cultivated in the southeastern parts. In the year 1779, Elizabeth river was so frozen at Norfolk, that the American


crossed on the ice. Since that period, it has been once frozen to Crany Island, a distance of three miles.

Bays.—The Chesapeak Bay extends inland near


[ocr errors]

Page 138, first edition of Jefferson's Notes, 1782.

200 miles to its termination in Maryland ; between the capes,

its width is twelve miles ; a little above, it increases to thirty, then gradually diminishes to five, at its northern extremity.

Rivers. The rivers which descend from the eastern side of the Apalachian mountains. The upper branches of the Roanoke river, called the Staunton and Dan, water the southern parts of this state.

The legislature of the state have proposed to form a connection between this river and the Chesapeak Bay. 2. James river, formerly called Powhattan, across the state from the high chain of mountains to the southern extremity of Chesapeak Bay. It is navigable for vessels of 125 tons to within a mile of Richmond, where a ledge of rocks interrupts the navigation by a series of rapids and falls for seven miles, along which, however, there is a canal communication. This river has three branches; the southern, or Apomatox, is navigable by means of a canal for small ves. sels eight miles above Petersburgh ; the north-west, or Rivannah branch, is navigable for small boats from its -junction to the south mountains, a distance of twenty-two miles; the other branch, called the Chicahomania, which runs sixty miles in the same direction, is navigable for vessels of six tons burden thirtytwo miles. 3. Elizabeth river, a short arm of James river, from which it stretches in a south-eastern direction, has, at common flood-tide, twenty-one feet water


* The name of the famous Indian chief who gave the land along this river as a marriage portion to his daughter Pocahunta.

as far as Gosfort, at the junction of the southern branch, and eighteen feet to that of the eastern, where, at Norfolk, it forms a fine harbour with thirty-two feet water, capable of containing 300 ships. 4. Nansemond river, another arm, some few miles west of the former, has a south-western direction, and is navigable for vessels of 250 tons, to a place called Sleepy Hole ; to Suffolk for vessels of 100 tons, and to Milner's Farm for those of twenty-five tons. 5. York river rises in the easternmost ridge of mountains, and falls into the Chesapeak after a course of 180 miles. At high tide it has four fathoms water to the distance of thirty miles from its mouth, and loaded boats ascend forty miles higher. At York, ten or twelve miles from its outlet, it forms a harbour capable of containing the largest vessels. Its two principal branches are called the Matapony and Pamunky rivers ; the latter is very crooked near its junction. 6. Rappahanock, which rises in the Blue ridge, and enters the Chesapeak after a south-east course of 200 miles, has two fathoms water as far as Fredericksburgh, which is 110 miles from its mouth. Its northern branch is called the Rapidan river. Between York river and the Rappahanock, several streams run into Mock Jack Bay of the Chesapeak. The three great streams, James river, York river, and Rappahanock, at several places approach within a mile of each other. The falls are from sixty to seventy miles distant from the moun. tains. 7. The Potomac, which separates this state from Maryland, in its course to the Chesapeak Bay, has three fathoms water to Alexandria, 290 miles from the sea, and ten feet to the falls, thirteen miles high

« AnteriorContinua »