The North American Midwest: A Regional Geography

By John H. Garland | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
12 The Upper Ohio Valley

A PERIPHERAL REGION

In a peripheral position with reference to the Midwest, the Upper Ohio Valley occupies the borderlands of eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania, most of West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and a small part of Tennessee. Most of this zone of contact between the East and the Midwest is drained by the Ohio and its upper tributaries which traverse the dissected Allegheny Plateau. These streams, combined with the structure and materials of the plateau, have provided a distinctive landscape in which drainage conditions and landforms together provide regional unity (Fig. 63).

Along the western borders of the Upper Ohio Valley are the relatively open plains beneath which the western margin of the Allegheny Plateau disappears. Surface features consist of low, well-rounded hills in subdued relief with insets of small river plains traversed by creeks and interlaced with the oversize channels of southward- flowing postglacial streams. In a few places such as Hocking County, Ohio, stream erosion has sculptured the low valley sides into some degree of ruggedness or has formed high cliffs and caves.

Most of the region is made up of the undulating ridges of the Allegheny and the Cumberland plateaus, within which the streams have cut their channels through massive sandstones and numerous shale strata. The eastern boundary of the plateaus, the Allegheny Front, marks the physiographic limit of the province. But this lies east of the limits of the Midwest. To the north, glacial lake terraces along the southern shores of Lake Erie merge indefinably with the glaciated portion of the Allegheny Plateau. The southern limits lie in the eroded hills of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, far beyond the limits of continental glaciation, where, in general, the residents of much of West Virginia face west for their contacts, rather than east. This is true throughout the hills of Tennessee and Kentucky as well, although in these parts there is a strong cultural kinship to the South. In Pennsylvania, the eastern limit of the Upper Ohio Valley is in terms of stream drainage. The interests of the people of Pittsburgh face west to the Ohio country, whereas those of Somerset and Chambersburg in. Pennsylvania and Cumberland in Maryland are oriented toward the Atlantic seaboard.

In this humid region, stream flow tends to be plentiful and fairly regular all year long, a condition satisfactory for navigation but highly destructive to soils on steep plateau surfaces. The natural environmental resources in this section of the Midwest are extremely varied, and as a result the occupance is also. The conditions that tend toward self-contained types of occupance are the hills and hollows, the inability of the thin soil to produce agricultural surpluses, and the poor land transport. Opposed are the centripetal features by means of which contacts with nearby regions may be established. These are the opportunity to ship raw materials or finished products by way of the Ohio and the Tennessee, the wealth of excellent sites for the production of hydroelectric power, the presence of untold amounts of bituminous coal, natural gas, and petroleum, and the

____________________
By H. F. Raup, Kent State University

-172-

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The North American Midwest: A Regional Geography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contributors v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Part I- A Point of VIew 1
  • Chapter I- The Heart of a Continent 3
  • Part 2- Midwestern Elements 17
  • Chapter 2- Weather and Climate 19
  • Chapter 3- Settlement Forms and Patterns 28
  • Chapter 4 - Significance of Agriculture 40
  • Chapter 5- Structure of Industry 52
  • Chapter 6- Trade and Transportation 67
  • Part 3- The Inner Midwest 91
  • Chapter 7- The West-Central Lowland 107
  • Chapter 8 108
  • Chapter 9- Eastern Lower Great Lakes 121
  • Chapter 10- The Upper Mississippi Valley 153
  • Part 4- The Midwestern Periphery 155
  • Chapter II- The Upper Great Lakes 157
  • Chapter 12- The Upper Ohio Valley 172
  • Chapter 13- The Lower Ohío Valley 185
  • Chapter 14- The Ozark Upland 212
  • Chapter 15- The Lower Míssourí Valley 218
  • Chapter 16- The Upper Missouri Valley 229
  • Selected Bibliography 243
  • Index 247
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