South Carolina: A Short History, 1520-1948

By David Duncan Wallace | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
THE GEOGRAPHICAL BASIS

SOUTH CAROLINA lies on the southeastern Atlantic seaboard approximately between 32 degrees and 35 degrees 14 minutes north latitude. Of its 31,055 square miles 599 are water. Although appearing on the map roughly as an equilateral triangle poised upon its southern point, the State can more accurately be viewed as a triangle with its 190-mile base resting upon the Atlantic Ocean and its apex 235 miles to the northwest resting on the crest of the Blue Ridge; for this recognizes the fact that the broad belts both of its geological formation and of its historical development run parallel with the sea.

The State is divided geologically into two great regions by the "fall line" running from North Augusta northeastward through Columbia and on to the North Carolina line near Cheraw. Above this line is the crystalline region, or up country, the surface of which has been formed by the decomposition of some of earth's oldest rocks, whose vast Archaean masses everywhere underlie the surface and frequently protrude in great masses or produce low falls and rapids in the streams. Throughout the whole region are scattered a great variety of minerals, among them gold, tin, and iron, but rarely in profitable quantities. From the Haile mine in the southern part of Lancaster County, the most notable gold mine cast of the Mississippi, about $2,500,000 worth of the precious metal has been taken since 1829, but almost all of it since the beginning of systematic operations in 1880; even this, the richest of the many gold deposits in the State, cannot be profitably worked under the depreciated value of gold in recent years. The limestone beds of York and Cherokee and the iron deposits of these counties and Spartanburg have likewise long been abandoned.

The greatest elevation in the State is Sassafras Mountain, a point in the Blue Ridge 3,548 feet above sea level on the line between Pickens County and North Carolina. In the northern parts of Oconee, Pickens, and Greenville counties spurs of the Blue Ridge jut southward to produce imposing precipices and rock mountains or wooded ridges, from which descend narrow, steep-sided valleys of great beauty.

So abundant is the rainfall in the mountains that their principal waterways leave them as already bold rivers. The Piedmont plateau, with its long rolling hills from 700 to 900 feet above sea level separating

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