Chapter XX - Geography, Geology and Climate

History of Hampshire County West Virginia From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present
By Hu Maxwell and H. L. Swisher
Morgantown, West Virginia; A. Brown Boughner Printer; 1897

PART 1 State History
Pages 237-255

In this chapter will be presented facts concerning West Virginia geography, climate, soil and geology. Its geography relates to the surface of the state as it exists now; its geology takes into account, not only the present surface, but all changes which have affected the surface in the past, together with as much of the interior as may be known and understood. The climate, like geography, deals chiefly with present conditions; but the records of geology sometimes give us glimpses of climates which prevailed ages ago. The soil of a state, if properly studied, is found to depend upon geography, geology and climatology. The limits prescribed for this chapter render impossible any extended treatise; an outline must suffice.

Reference to the question of geology naturally comes first, as it is older than our present geography or climate. We are told that there was a time when the heat of the earth was so great that all substances within it or upon its surface were in a molten state. It was a white-hot globe made of all the minerals. The iron, silver, gold, rock, and all else were liquid. The earth was then larger than it is now, and the days and nights were longer. After ages of great length had passed, the surface cooled and a crust or shell was formed on the still very hot globe. This was the first appearance of "rock," as we understand the word now. The surface of the earth was no doubt very rough, but without high mountains. The crust was not thick enough to support high mountains, and all underneath of if was still melted. Probably for thousands of years after the first solid crust made its appearance, there was no rain, although the air was more filled with moisture then than now. The rocks were so hot that a drop of water upon touching the in was instantly turned to steam. But they gradually cooled, and rains fell. Up to this point in the earth's history we are guided solely by inductions from the teaching's of astronomy, assisted to some extent by well-known facts of chemistry. Any description of our world at that time must be speculative, and as applicable to one part as to another. No human eye ever saw, and recognized as such, one square foot of the original crust of the earth, in the form in which it cooled from the molten state. Rains, winds, frosts and fire have broken up and worn away some parts, and with the sand and sediment thus formed, buried the other parts. But that it was exceedingly hot is not doubted; and there is not wanting evidence that only the outer crust has yet reached a tolerable degree of coolness, while all the interior surpasses the most intense furnace heat. Upheavals and depressions affecting large areas, so often met with in the study of geology, are supposed to be due to the settling down of the solid crust in one place and the consequent upheaval in another. Could a railroad train run thirty minutes, at an ordinary speed, toward the center of the earth, it would probably reach a temperature to melt iron. And, it may be stated parenthetically, could the same train run at the same speed for the same time away from the center of the earth, it would reach a temperature so cold that the hottest day would show a thermometer one hundred degrees below zero. So narrow is the sphere of our existence —- below us is fire; above us "the measureless cold of space." In a well on Bogg's run, near Wheeling, the temperature at 4,462 feet was one hundred and ten degrees. A descent of less than a mile raised the temperature sixty degrees. A well five thousand feet deep near Pittsburg had a temperature of one hundred and twenty degrees. A well in Germany live thousand seven hundred and forty feet deep gave a temperature of one hundred and thirty-five degrees. The rate of increase in heat is nearly the same in distant parts of the world, and gives us strong evidence that only the outer crust is cool, and that intense heat lies below.

When we look out upon our quiet valleys, the Kanawha, the Potomac, the Monongahela, or contemplate our mountains, rugged and near, or robed in distant blue, rising and rolling, range beyond range, peak above peak; cliffs over-hanging gorges and ravines; meadows, uplands, glades beyond; with brooks and rivers; the landscape fringed with flowers or clothed with forests; we are too apt to pause before fancy has had time to call up that strange and wonderful panorama of distant ages when the waves of a vast sea swept over all; or when only broken and angular rocks thrust their shoulders through the foam of the ocean as it broke against the nearly submerged ledges where since have risen the highest peaks of the Alleghanies and the Blue Ridge. Here where we now live have been strange scenes. Here have been beauty, awfulness and sublimity, and also destruction. There was a long age with no winter. Gigantic ferns and rare palms, enormous in size, and delicate leaves and tendrils, flourished over wide areas and vanished. And there was a time when for ages there was no summer. But we know of this from records elsewhere; for its record in West Virginia has been blotted out. Landscapes have disappeared. Fertile valleys and undulating bills, with soil deep and fruitful, have been washed away, leaving only a rocky skeleton; and in many places even this has been ground to powder and carried away, or buried under sands and drift from other regions.

An outline of some of the changes which have affected the little spot in the earth's surface, now occupied by West Virginia, will be presented, not by any means complete, but sufficient to convey an idea of the agencies which enter into the workings of geology. It is intended for the young, into whose hands this book will come; not for those whose matUrer years and greater opportunities have already made them acquainted with this sublime chapter in the book of creation.

When the crust of the earth had cooled sufficiently, rains washed down the higher portions, and the sands and sediment thus collected were spread over the lower parts. This sand, when it had become hardened, formed the first layers of rock, called strata. Some of these very ancient formations exist yet and have been seen; but whether they are the oldest of the layer rocks, no man knows. Some of the ancient layers, of great thickness, after being deposited at the sea bottoms, were heated from the interior of the earth, and were melted. In these cases the stratified appearance has usually disappeared, and they are called metamorphic rocks. Some geologists regard granite as a rock of this kind.

As the earth cooled more and more, it shrank in size, and the surface was shriveled and wrinkled in folds, large and small. The larger of these wrinkles were mountains. Seas occupied the low places; and the first brooks and rivers began to appear, threading their way wherever the best channels could be found. Rains, probably frost also,* attacked the higher ridges and rocky slopes, almost destitute of soil, and the washings were carried to the seas, forming other layers of rocks on the bottoms; and thus the accumulation went on, varying in rate at times, but never changing the general plan of rock building from that day to the present. All rock, or very nearly all, in West Virginia were formed at the bottom of the ocean, of sand, mud and gravel, or of shells, or a mixture of all, the ingredients of which were cemented together with silica, iron, lime, or other mineral substance held in solution in water. They have been raised up from the water, and now form dry land, and have been cut and carved into valleys, ridges, gorges and the various inequalities seen within our state. These rocks are sometimes visible, forming cliffs and the bottoms and banks of streams and the tops of peaks and barren mountains; but for the greater part of West Virginia, the underlying rocks are hidden by soil. This soil, however, at the deepest, is only a few feet thick, and were it all swept off we should have visible all over the state a vast and complicated system of ledges and bowlders, carved and cut to conform to every height and depression now marking the surface. The aggregate thickness of these layers, as they have been seen and measured in this state, is no less than four miles. In other words, sand and shells four miles deep (and perhaps more) were in past time spread out on the bottom of a sea which then covered West Virginia, and after being hardened into rock, were raised up and then cut into valleys and other inequalities as we see them today. The rockbuilding was not all done during one uninterrupted period, nor was there only one upheaval. West Virginia, or a portion of it, has been several times under and above the sea. The coast line has swept back and forth across it again and again. We read this history from the rocks themselves. The skilled geologist can determine, from an examination of the fossil shells and plants in a stratum, the period of the earth's history when the stratum was formed. He can determine the oldest and the youngest in a series of strata. Yet, not from fossils alone may this be determined. The position of the layers with regard to one another is often a sure guide in discovering the oldest and youngest. The sands having been spread out in layers, one above the other, it follows that those on top are not so old as those below; except in cases, unusual in this state, where strata have been folded so sharply that they have been broken and turned over. Thus the older rocks may lie above the newer.

Unmeasured as are the ages recorded in the mountains and cliffs of West Virginia, yet the most ancient of our ledges are young in comparison with those of other parts of the world, or even of neighboring provinces. North of us is a series of rocks, the Laurentian of Canada, more than five miles thick, formed, dike ours, of the slow accumulation of sand. Yet that series was finished and was probably partly worn away before the first grain of sand or the first shell, of which we have any record, found a resting place on the bottom of the Cambrian sea which covered West Virginia. If the inconceivable lapse of years required for accumulating shell and sand four miles deep in the sea bottom, where we now live, amazes us, what must we say of that vaster period reaching back into the cycles of the infant world, all of which were past and gone before the foundations of our mountains were laid! Nor have we reached the beginning yet. No man knows whether the Laurentian rocks are oldest of the layers; and if they are, still back of them stretches that dim and nebulous time, unrecorded, uncharted, penetrated only by the light of astronomy, when the unstratified rocks were taking form,, from whose disintegrated material all subsequent formations have been built.

Let us begin with the Cambrian age, as geologists call it. Within the limits of our state we have little, if any, record of anything older. Were a map made of eastern United States during that early period it would show a mass of land west of us, covering the middle states, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and beyond. Another mass of land would lie east of us, occupying the Atlantic coastal plain, from New England to South Carolina, and extending to an unknown distance eastward, where the Atlantic ocean now is. Between these two bodies of land spread a narrow arm of the sea, from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Alabama. West Virginia was at the bottom of that sea, whose eastern coast line is believed to have occupied nearly the position, and to have followed the general direction, of what is now the Blue Ridge. Sand washed from this land east of us was spread upon the bottom of the sea and now forms the lowest layers of rocks met with in West Virginia, the foundations of our mountains. But this rock is so deep that it is seen only in a few places where it has been brought up by folds of the strata, and where rivers have cut deep. For the most part of the state these Cambrian rocks lie buried, under subsequent formations, thousands of feet deep.

There were mountains of considerable magnitude in that land east of the sea. The country west of the sea must have been low. During the immense time, before the next great change, the eastern mountains were worn down and carried, as sand and mud, into the sea. The Silurian age followed, and as it drew near, the region began to sink. The sea which had covered the greater part of West Virginia, or at least the eastern part of it, began to overflow the country both east and west. The waters spread westward beyond the present Mississippi. The land to the eastward had become low and not much sediment was now coming from that direction. The washings from the rounded hills were probably accumulating as a deep soil in the low plains and widening valleys. Over a large part of West Virginia, during the Silurian age, thick beds of limestone were formed of shells, mixed with more or less sediment. Shellfish lived and died in the ocean, and when dead their skeletons sank to the bottom. It is thus seen that the origin of limestone differs from that of sandstone in this, that the former is a product of water and the material for the latter is washed into water from land.

The character of rocks usually tells how far from land they were formed, and if sandstone, what kind of country furnished the material. The coarsest sandstones were deposited near shore, back of which the country was usually high and steep. Fine-grained sandstones, or shales, were probably laid down along flat shores, above which the land had little elevation. Or they may have been deposited from fine sediment which drifted a considerable distance from land. If limestone is pure, it is proof that little sediment from the land reached if while being formed. The limestone deposited over a considerable part of West Virginia during the closing of the Cambrian and the beginning of the Silurian age forms beds from three thousand to four thousand feet thick. During the vast period required for the accumulation of this mass of shells the land to the east remained comparatively flat or continued slowly to sink. We know this, because there is not much sediment mixed with the limestone, and this would not be the case had large quantities been poured into the sea from the land.

Another great change was at hand. The land area east of us began to rise, and the surface became steep. What perhaps had been for a long time low, rounding hills, and wide, fiat valleys, with a deep accumulation of soil, was raised and tilted; and the stronger and more rapid currents of the streams, and the rush of the rain water down the more abrupt slopes, sluiced off the soil into the sea. The beds of limestone were covered two thousand feet deep beneath sand and mud, the spoils from a country which must have been fertile and productive. The land was worn down. Ages on ages passed, and the work of grinding went on; the rains fell; the winds blew; the floods came; the frost of winter and the heat of summer followed each other through years surpassing record. Near the close of the Silurian time the shore of the continent to the east rose and sank. The vertical movements were perhaps small; they may have been just enough to submerge the coastal plain, then raise it above water; repeating the operation two or more times. The record of this is in the alternating coarse and fine sediments and sand composing the rocks formed during that time. At the close of the Silurian period the continent east of us was worn down again and had become low. The sea covering West Virginia had been cut off from the Gulf of St. Lawrence by an upheaval in the state of New York. The uplift of the land seems to have been much greater during this time north of us than south. The Devonian age followed, which was a great rock-builder in the north. The aggregate thickness of the Devonian rocks in Pennsylvania is no less than nine thousand feet. From there to southward it thins out, like a long, sloping wedge, until it disappears in Alabama, after thinning to twenty- five feet in southern Tennessee. In some parts of West Virginia the Devonian rocks are seven thousand feet thick. The sediments of which these strata were made were usually fine-grained forming shales and medium sandstones, with some limestones here and there. The long, dreary Devonian age at last drew to a close, and an epoch, strange and imperfectly understood, dawned upon the earth. It was during this age that the long summer prevailed; the winterless climate over the northern hemisphere; the era of wonderful vegetation; the time of plant growth such as was perhaps never on earth before, nor will be again. It is known as the Carboniferous age.

During that period our coal was formed. The rocks deposited on the sea bottom in the Carboniferous age ranged in thickness from two thousand to eight thousand feet in different parts of West Virginia. During this time there is evidence of the breaking up and redistribution of a vast gravel bar which had lain somewhere out of reach of the waves since earlier ages. This bar, or this aggregation whether a bar or not, was made up of quartz pebbles, varying in size from a grain of sand to a cocoanut, all worn and polished as if rolled and fretted on a beach or in turbulent mountain streams for centuries. By some means the sea obtained possession of them, and they were spread out in layers, in some places hundreds of feet thick, and were cemented together, forming coarse, hard rocks. We see them along the summits of the Alleghanies, and the outlying spurs and ridges, from the southern borders of our state, to the Pennsylvania line, and beyond. The formation is called conglomerate; and the popular names are "bean rock," "millstone grit," etc. A heavy stratum of this stone forms the floor of the coal measures. The pebbles probably represent the most indestructible remnants of mountains, once seamed with quartz veins, but degraded and obliterated before the middle of the Carboniferous era, perhaps long before. The quartz, on account of its hardness, resisted the grinding process which pulverized the adjacent rocks, and remained as pebbles, in bars and beds, until some great change swept them into the sea. Their quantity was enormous. The rocks composed of them now cover thousands of square miles to a considerable thickness.

As the Carboniferous age advanced the sea which had covered the greater part of West Virginia since Cambrian time, was nearing its last days. It had come down from the Cambrian to the Silurian, from the Silurian to the Devonian, from the Divonian to the Caboniferous, but it came down through the ages no further. From that area where the waves had rolled for a million years they were about to recede. With the passing of the sea, rose the land, which has since been crossed by ranges of the Alleghany, Blue Ridge, Laurel Ridge, and all their spurs and hills. From the middle of the Carboniferous epoch to its close was a period of disturbance over the whole area under consideration. The bottom of the sea was lifted up, became dry land, and sank again. It seemed that a mighty effort was being made by the land to throw back the water which had so long held dominion. It was a protracted, powerful struggle, in which first the land and then the water gained the mastery. Back and forth for hundreds of miles swept and receded the sea. Years, centuries, millennials, the struggle continued, but finally the land prevailed, was lifted up and the. waves retreated westward and southward to the Gulf of Mexico, and West Virginia was dry land, and it has remained such to this day.

Beds of coal, unlike layers of rock, are made above water, or at its immediate surface. While the oscillation between sea and land was going on, during the Carboniferous age, West Virginia's coal fields were being formed. Coal is made of wood and plants of various kind, which grew with a phenomenal luxuriance during a long period of summer that reigned over the northern half of the earth. Each bed of coal represents a swamp, large or small, in which plants grew, fell and were buried for centuries. The whole country in which coal was forming was probably low, and it was occasionally submerged for a few thousand years. During the submergence, sand and mud settled over it and hardened into rock. Then the land was lifted up again, and the material for another bed of coal was accumulated. Every alternation of coal and rock marks an elevation and subsidence of the land —— the coal formed on land, the rock under water. This was the period when the sea was advancing and receding across West Virginia, as the Carboniferous age was drawing to a close.

Other ages of geology succeeded the Carboniferous; but little record of them remains in West Virginia. The land here was above the sea; no sediment could be deposited to form rocks, and of course there was little on which a permanent record could be written. The strata underlying the greater part of our state grew thicker and deeper from the Cambrian age to the Carboniferous; then the sea receded, and from that time to the present the layers of rock have been undergoing* the wear and tear of the elements, and the aggregate has been growing thinner. The strata have been folded, upraised by subterranean forces and cut through by rivers. In some places the Carboniferous rocks have not yet been worn away; in other places the river gorges have reached the bottom of the Devonian rocks; in still other localities the great Silurian layers have been cut through; and in a few places the cutting has gone down deep into the Cambrian rocks. The Glacial age, the empire of "steadfast, inconceivable cold," which followed the warm period in which coal was formed, did not write its history in West Virginia as indelibly as in some other parts of our country. The great morains and bowlders so conspicuous in other localities are not found with us. No doubt that the cold here was intense; perhaps there were glaciers among the high lands; but the evidence has been well nigh obliterated.

Land seems to have been lifted up in two ways, one a vertical movement which elevated large areas and formed plateaus, but not mountains; the other, a horizontal movement which caused folds in the strata, and these folds, if large enough, are ranges of mountains. In West Virginia, we have both acting in the same area. Independently of the mountains, West Virginia has a rounding form, sloping gradually upward from three directions. Imagine the mountain ranges sheared off until no irregular elevations exist in the state. The resulting figure would show West Virginia's surface as it would be presented to us if no strata had been folded to make mountain ranges. This is the shape given by the vertical upheaval since the Carboniferous age, uninfluenced by the horizontal thrust of strata. The figure would show a great swell in the surface, the highest portion at the interlocking* sources of the Greenbrier, the Elk, the Potomac, the east fork of the Monongahela, and Cheat. From that highest point the surface slopes in every direction, as shown by the course of the rivers. There is a long, curved arm of the plateau thrust out toward the southwest, reaching around through Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Monroe and McDowell counties, and overlapping into the state of Virginia. The New river, from the highlands of North Carolina, cuts through this plateau to join the Kanawha on the western side. The highest part of this rounded area is perhaps three thousand. feet above sea level, not counting the mountains which stand upon the plateau; for, in order to make the matter plain, we have supposed all the mountains sheared off level with the surface of the plateau.

Having now rendered it clear that portions of West Virginia would be high if there were not a mountain in the state, let us proceed to consider how the mountains were formed and why nearly all the highest summits are clustered in three or four counties. We have already observed that ranges of mountains such as ours are formed by the folding of layers of rocks. This is apparent to any one who has seen one of our mountains cut through from top to bottom, such as the New Creek mountain at Greenland Gap. Place several layers of thick cloth on a table, push the ends toward each other. The middle of the cloth will rise in folds. In like manner were our mountains formed. The layers of rock were pushed horizontally, one force acting from the southeast, the other from the northwest. Rivers and rains have carved and cut them, changing their original features somewhat; but their chief characteristics remain. The first upheaval, which was vertical, raised the West Virginia plateau, as we believe; the next upheaval, which was caused by horizontal thrust, folded the layers of rocks which formed the plateau and made mountain ranges. From this view it is not difficult to account for so many high peaks in one small area. The mountain ranges cross the plateau, running up one slope, across the summit, and down the opposite slope. These ranges are from one thousand to nearly two thousand feet high, measuring from the general level of the country on which they stand. But that general level is itself, in the highest part, about three thousand feet above the sea. So a mountain, in itself one thousand feet in elevation, may stand upon a plateau three times that high, and thus its summit will be four thousand feet above the sea. The highest peaks in the state are where the ranges of mountains cross the highest part of the plateau. There are many other mountains in the state which, when measured from base to summit, are as high as those just mentioned, but they do not have the advantage of resting their bases on ground so elevated, consequently their summits are not so far above sea level. To express it briefly, by a homely comparison, a five-foot man on three-foot stilts is higher than a six-foot man on the ground; a one thousand-foot mountain on a a three thousand-foot plateau is higher than a two thousand-foot mountain near the sea level.

Exact measurements showing the elevation of West Virginia in various parts of its area, when studied in connection with a map of the state, show clearly that the area rises in altitude from all sides, culminating in the nest of peaks clustered around the sources of the Potomac, the Kanawha and Monongahela. The highest point in the state is Spruce mountain, in Pendleton county, 4,860 feet above sea level; the lowest point is the bed of the Potomac at Harper's Ferry, 260 feet above the sea; the vertical range is 4,600 feet. The Ohio, at the mouth of Big Sandy, on the boundary between West Virginia and Kentucky is 500 feet; the mouth of Cheat, at the Pennsylvania line is 775. A line drawn through the principal points in the state at an elevation of 1,000 feet, would not run round the state, but beginning in the southwest would follow a waving and zig-zag course along the western side, across part of the northern side, and after being cut off by the high region of western Maryland, would reappear in the state. If we begin at the mouth of Crane creek, on Dry fork of Big Sandy, the one thousand foot level passes through the mouth of Dry branch on Tug fork, in McDowell county; it sweeps up the Kanawha valley to Sewell, in Fayette county, passes through Wood's ferry on the Gauley, and passes up the Elk to the line between Webster and Braxton counties. The line ascends the Little Kanawha to the mouth of Glady creek, in Lewis county. It sweeps up the Monongahela and Tygart's valley rivers six miles above Grafton, in Taylor county, and up the West fork to Weston. It ascends Cheat river to the mouth of Sandy, in Preston county. It crosses the North branch of the Potomac at Bloomington, in Mineral county, and ascends the South branch to the mouth of the North fork, in Grant county. The line is almost level with the tops of the mountains in Jefferson and Berkeley counties.

The fifteen hundred foot contour line, beginning at the mouth of Cucumber creek, in McDowell county, follows the upper valleys and ridges around to the New river beyond the Virginia line. Thus the fifteen hundred foot contour cuts our state in two along the valley of the New river. The line returning along the face of the mountains north of New river, strikes the Greenbrier at Lowell station, and the Gauley at Hughes' ferry, the Elk at Addison, and the Little Kanawha at the boundary between Upshur and Webster counties. The line goes up the Buckhannon river to the mouth of Grassy run; up Cheat to St. George, in Tucker county. East of there the line leaves the state and enters Maryland; reappearing on the North branch below Elk Garden, and ascending the South branch to Deer run, in Pendleton county. The two thousand foot line crosses the south fork of Tug river near the Virginia line, in McDowell county; passes through Mercer county, crossing the Bluestone river at the mouth of Wolf creek. It crosses the Greenbrier at the line between Pocahontas and Greenbrier counties. It ascends Dry fork of Cheat to near the mouth of Red creek, in Tucker county, and crosses the North branch of the Potomac at Schell in Grant county. The higher contour lines enclose, narrower areas until when four thousand feet is reached, only peaks project above. The general level of Pocahontas county is about three thousand feet above the sea. The bed of Greenbrier river where it enters Pocahontas is three thousand three hundred feet in elevation. Where Shaver's fork of Cheat river leaves Pocahontas, its bed is three thousand seven hundred feet. A few of the highest peaks in Pocahontas, Pendleton, Randolph and Tucker counties are: Spruce knob, Pendleton county, four thousand eight hundred and sixty feet above sea level; Bald knob, Pocahontas county, four thousand eight hundred; Spruce knob, Pocahontas county, four thousand seven hundred and thirty; High knob, Randolph county, four thousand seven- hundred and ten; Mace knob, Pocahontas county, four thousand seven hundred; Barton knob, Randolph county, four thousand six hundred; Bear mountain, Pocahontas county, four thousand six hundred; Elleber ridge, Pocahontas county, four thousand six hundred; Watering Pond knob, Pocahontas county, four thousand six hundred; Panther knob, Pendleton county, four thousand five hundred; Weiss knob, Tucker county, four thousand four hundred and ninety; Green knob, Randolph county, four thousand four hundred and eighty-five; Brier Patch mountain, Randolph county, four thousand four hundred and eighty; Yokum's knob, Randolph county, four thousand three hundred and thirty; Pointy knob, Tucker county, four thousand two hundred eighty six; Hutton's knob, Randolph county, four thousand two hundred and sixty.

We do not know whether the vertical upheaval which raised the plateau, or the horizontal compression which elevated the mountains, has yet ceased. We know that the work of destruction is not resting. Whether the uplift is still acting with sufficient force to make our mountains higher; or whether the elements are chiseling down rocks, and lowering our whole surface, we cannot say. But this we can say, if the teachings of geology may be taken as warrant for the statement: every mountain, every hill, every cliff, rock, upland, even the valleys, and the whole vast underlying skeleton of rocks, must ultimately pass away and disappear beneath the sea. Rain and frost, wind and the unseen chemical forces, will at least complete the work of destruction. Every rock will be worn to sand, and the sand will go out with the currents of oar rivers, until the rivers no longer have currents, and the sea will flow in to cover the desolation. The sea once covered a level world; the world will again be level, and again will the sea cover it.

There is greater diversity of climate in West Virginia than in almost an other area of the United States of equal size. The climate east of the Alleghanies is different from that west of the range; while that in the high plateau region is different from either. The state's topography is responsible for this, as might be expected from a vertical range of more than four thousand feet, with a portion of the land set to catch the west wind, and a portion to the east, and still other parts to catch every wind that blows. Generally speaking, the country east of the Alleghanies has the warmer and dryer climate. In the mountain regions the summers are never very hot, and the winters are always very cold. The thermometer sometimes falls thirty degrees below zero near the summit of the Alleghanies; while the highest summer temperature is seldom above ninety degrees, but the record shows ninety-six. The depth of snow varies with the locality and the altitude. Records of snow six and seven feet deep near the summits of the highest mountains have been made. At an elevation of fifteen hundred feet above the sea, there was snow forty-two inches deep in 1856, along the mountains and valleys west of the Alleghanies. In 1831, at an elevation of less than one thousand feet, snow accumulated three feet deep between the mountains and the Ohio river. Tradition tells of a snow in the northwestern part of the state in 1780 which was still deeper; but exact measurements were not recorded. The summer of 1854 was almost rainless west of the mountains. In the same region in 1834 snow fell four inches deep on the fifteenth of May; and on June 5, 1859, a frost killed almost every green thing in the central and northern part of the state.

The average annual rainfall for the state of West Virginia, including melted snow, is about forty-seven inches. The precipitation is greater west of the Alleghanies than east, and greatest near the summit of these mountains, on the western side. Our rains and snows come from two general directions, from the west-southwest, and from the east. Local storms may come from any direction. Eastern storms are usually confined to the region east of the Alleghanies. The clouds which bring rains from that quarter come from the Atlantic ocean. The high country following the summits of the Appalachian range from Canada almost to the Gulf of Mexico is the dividing line between the two systems of rains and winds which visit West Virginia. Storms from the Atlantic move up the gentle slope from the coast to the base of the mountains, precipitating their moisture in the form of rain or snow as they come. They strike the abrupt eastern face of the Alleghanies, expending their force and giving out the remainder of their moisture there, seldom crossing to the west side. The Blue Ridge is not high enough to interfere seriously with the passage of clouds across their summits; but the Alleghanies are usually a barrier, especially for eastern storms. As the clouds break against their sides there are sometimes terrific rains below, while very little, and perhaps none falls on the summit. On such an occasion, an observer on one of the Alleghany peaks can look down upon the storm and can witness the play of lightning and hear the thunder beneath him. Winds which cross high mountains seldom deposit much rain or snow on the leeward side.

Whence, then does the western part of our state receive its rains? Not from the Atlantic, because the winds which bring rain for the country west of the Alleghanies, blow towards that ocean, not from it. No matter in what part of the world rain or snow falls, it was derived from vapor taken up by the sun from some sea or ocean. An insignificant portion of the world's rainfall is taken up as vapor from land. From what sea, then, do the winds blow which bring the rain that falls against the western slopes of the mountains, and waters the country to the Ohio river and beyond?

Take the back track of the winds and follow them to their starting point, and that will settle the question. They come from a direction a little west of southwest. That course will lead to the Pacific ocean west of Mexico. Go on in the same direction two thousand or three thousand miles, and reach the equator. Then turn at right angles and go southeast some thousand miles further and reach that wide domain of the Pacific which stretches from South America to Australia. There, most probably, would be found the starting point of the winds which bring us rain. The evidence to substantiate this statement is too elaborate and complex to be given here; suffice it that the great wind systems of the world, with their circuits, currents and counter-currents, have been traced and charted until they are almost as well known as are the rivers of the world. Not only is the great distance from which our rains come am astonishing theme for contemplation, but the immense quantity transported is more amazing — a sheet of water nearly four feet thick and covering an area of twenty thousand square miles, lifted by the sun's rays every year from the South Pacific, carried through the air ten thousand miles and sprinkled with a bountiful profusion upon our mountains, hills, vales, meadows and gardens to make them pleasing and fruitful.

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