The Rural Economy of New England: A Regional Study

By John Donald Black | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
The Uses of the Land

New England may have a volume of agricultural product fully proportional to its area. But one who travels its highways from Connecticut to far northern Maine and from Providence to Lake Champlain finds himself wondering how this can be so and where this agricultural product comes from. So much of the land that unrolls ahead and stretches away on either side seems to be covered with trees that little space seems left for fields and meadows. The problem of this chapter is to state in simple terms what uses of the land of New England now are, in general, and by states and smaller units. The next chapter will show how these present uses came to be.

The references to land use in this chapter and others following will sometimes be by counties as well as by states. The location of the 67 counties of New England is shown in the accompanying Key Map.

This description of present land use will be far from complete or accurate. The inventory of land in farms taken at each federal census enables us to present facts and data in considerable detail for land included within farm boundaries; but 67 per cent of the land surface of New England was not in farms in 1940, and for this land very little information is on record. This is particularly true for Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The charts in this chapter showing distribution of land use will be mostly in terms of the 1925 federal census, but tables will be introduced showing changes through 1940. The 1925 census was more nearly "normal" than those of 1930 and 1935. The 1940 census does not subdivide pasture land into open and wooded, nor woodland into pastured and not pastured, as does the 1925 census.

The first map on the 1925 basis, Chart 20, shows the distribution of this land not in farms on a township basis.1 The agriculture of the region is most

____________________
1
The six agricultural experiment stations of New England arranged with the Bureau of the Census on a cost basis to have these and other data used in this and later chapters tabulated by townships.

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