« ForrigeFortsett »
esteemed by the farmers for the culture of corn, wheat and other cereals. They are admirably adapted to the cultivation of fruits, and their blue grass pastures are equal to any in the state. Their area may be fairly estimated at six millions of acres.
The magnesian limestone soils extend from Callaway county south to the Arkansas line, and from Jefferson west to Polk county, an area of · about ten millions of acres. These soils are dark, warm, light and very productive. They produce black and white walnut, black gum, white and wahoo elms, sugar maple, honey locust, mulberry, chestnut, post, laurel, black, scarlet and Spanish oaks, persimmon, blue ash, and many trees of smaller growth. They cover all the country underlaid by the magnesian limestone series, but are inconvenient for ordinary tillage when they occupy the hillsides or narrow valleys. Among the most fertile soils in the state, they produce fine crops of almost all the staples; and thrifty and productive fruit trees and grape vines evince their extraordinary adaptation and fitness to the culture of the grape and other fruits.
On the ridges, where the lighter materials of the soil have been washed away, or were originally wanting, white oak lands are to be found, the oaks accompanied by shellbark and black hickory, and trees and shrubs of smaller growth. While the surface soil is not so rich as the hickory lands, the sub-soil is quite as good, and the land may be greatly improved by turning the sub-soil to the surface. These produce superior wheat, good corn, and a very fine quality of tobacco. On these lands fruits are abundant and a sure crop. They embrace about one and a half million of acres.
Post oak lands have about the same growth as the white oak lands, and produce good crops of the staples of the country, and yield the best tobacco in the West. Fruits of all kinds excel on this soil. These lands require deep culture.
The black jack lands occupy the high flint ridges underlaid with hornstone and sandstone, and under these conditions are considered the poorest in the state, except for pastures and vineyards. The presence, however, of black jack on other lands does not indicate thin or poor lands.
Pine lands are extensive, embracing about two millions of acres. The pines (pinis mitis, yellow pine), grow to great size, and furnish immense supplies of marketable lumber. They are accompanied by heavy growths of oak, which takes the country as successor to the pine. The soil is sandy and is adapted to small grains and grasses.
Bisecting the state by a line drawn from the city of Hannibal, on the Mississippi river, to its southwest corner, the half lying to the north and west of this line may be described as the prairie region of the state, with the rare advantage that every county is bountifully supplied with timber and with rivers and smaller streams of water. That which lies east and
south of the bisecting line is the timbered or forest section, in which are found numerous prairies of greater or less extent.
The prairie lands are again divided into bottom and upland prairies. The bottom prairies closely resemble in soil the river bottoms. In a certain sense, the formation is identical; each came from accretions, one from the rivers and the other from the higher or upland prairies. The marl formation is the foundation of both and in both it is deeply buried under the modern alluvium.
The celebrated and eloquent orator, Henry Ward Beecher, paid the following brilliant tribute to our grand state:
“The breadth of land from the Red River country of the far North, stretching to the Gulf of Mexico, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Texas is one of the most wonderful agricultural spectacles of the globe! It is one of the few facts that are unthinkable! In this ocean of land, and at nearly its centre, STANDS THE IMPERIAL STATE OF MISSOURI. Even a Kansas man admits that in natural qualifications it leads all the rest, and is the crown and glory of the Union! It has boundless treasures of coal, iron, lead and other minerals; lands richer there cannot be, nor finer streams; its forests are more equally distributed all over the state than in any other; its climate, wholesome and delightful, blends the temperature of the northern lakes and the great southern gulf.”
Horace Greely said: “Missouri possesses the resources and capacities of a nation within the boundaries of a State.”
ANIMALS.—Missouri has been the feeding ground for vast herds of the choicest of the large game animals up to the present generation. Old hunters and trappers, still living, tell marvelous stories of their exploits with the gun. As civilization and population advanced westward their numbers decreased, yet Missouri is still furnishing a very large proportion of the game for the markets of all the large cities of the United States. Even London receives large shipments, every winter, from St. Louis. From October 1st to February 1st, of every year, there is not an express car arriving in St. Louis which does not bring large consignments of game. The quantity is enormous, and far beyond the knowledge of every one except those engaged in the trade, or whose duties bring them in contact with the facts.
Elk, buffalo, antelope and bear formerly abounded in this state, but are now nearly or quite driven entirely beyond our borders. Red deer are still plentiful in some parts of the state. In fact, the Ozark Mountains and the swamp lands of southeast Missouri constitute a great deer park and game preserve, and will continue to do so until immigration crowds out the game. It is a notorious fact, that venison sells as cheaply as good beef in St. Louis markets, during the winter season.
The rabbit, as it is popularly called here, is a species of hare, and is about the average size of the domestic cat. They are so numerous in Missouri as to be considered a pest; are found in every field and forest in the state. Squirrels are very numerous, especially in the swampy and hilly regions. The two principal varieties are the grey squirrel and the red fox-squirrel. One of these varieties is to be found in every clump of timbered land in the state.
BIRDS.—Wild turkeys, the finest game birds in the world, abound in the same region. Prairie chickens, or pinnated grouse, are abundant in all the prairie regions of the state, and are shipped from St. Louis to eastern markets by hundreds of barrels during the fall months; but the game laws of the state strictly prohibit their being killed or trapped during the breeding season. Quails, or Virginia partridge, or “Bob-Whites,” are found everywhere, so common that partridge pie, or “quail on toast,” is no great rarity in thrifty farm houses.
Wild ducks, wild geese, snipe, plover and several species of the rail frequent Missouri during their annual migrations north and south. During March, April and May the migratory birds pass through Missouri, going north to their nesting and brooding places, probably near the Arctic circle. In October, November and December they return, on their journey southward to spend the winter. There is no state in the great Mississippi basin more frequented by these migratory game birds than Missouri.
FISHES.—The early settlers found the rivers and lakes teeming with many fine varieties of game and food fishes, and there is still a bountiful supply. Black bass, perch, catfish, buffalo fish, suckers and pike constitute the leading varieties of native fishes. Black bass of several varieties inhabit every stream of considerable size in the state, and every lake contains them. It is the best game fish in the state. The perch family is represented by several dozen species; and perch of several kinds are found in every body of water in the state, which does not actually dry up in the summer time. The catfish of Missouri are not only numerous, but famous the world over. There are at least a dozen species in the waters of this state. The yellow catfish grows to great size, often reaching a weight of 175 pounds; the black catfish, maximum weight about 45 pounds; blue or forked-tail catfish, reaching 150 pounds and upwards in weight; the channel catfish, weighing from one to fifteen pounds, and the yellow mud catfish, often weighing as high as 100 pounds. The sucker family includes the buffalo fish, chub, sucker and red horse. The first of these is highly prized, abundant, and grows to a maximum weight of 40 pounds. The last named is very abundant during certain seasons of the year, and valuable; they weigh from 6 ounces to 8 pounds. Pike of several species are found throughout Missouri, and rank with black bass as game fish; they are found in the clearer and rapid streams.
The above lists constitute the leading fishes of the state, but by no means all, as there are many minor species.
The state board of fish commissioners receives $3,000 annually from the state, to defray expenses of propagating desirable kinds of food fishes, that are not found native in the state. In 1878 Mr. Reid distributed 100,000 fry of the California salmon, in the state. In May and June, 1879, the commission distributed 250,000 shad fry in the rivers of southeast, south and southwest Missouri, and planted 5,000 young trout in the springs and sources of the same rivers. Later they have planted 100,000 fry of the California salmon in the same sections of the state. In 1880 two or three hundred thousand fry of German carp were planted. All the waters of Missouri are adapted to this fish, more especially the lakes and sluggish streams. The carp can be as easily cultivated as pigs or turkeys, and it is hoped that in a few years all the streams of the state will be stocked with them.
For nearly forty years Dr. George Engelmann, of St. Louis, kept systematic records of the meteorology of St. Louis and vicinity; and by compiling similar records kept during long or short periods, by other persons in different parts of the state, he has been able to report pretty correctly the dates and weather-facts which go to furnish a comprehensive estimate of the general nature of the climate, at each season of the year, in different parts of the state. The following facts of great practical interest and value are gathered from the doctor's work:
Our winters, taken in the usual sense, from the first of December to the last of February, have in the city an average temperature of 33.3 degrees, and may be estimated for the surrounding country at 32 degrees; but they vary in different seasons between 25 degrees (winter of 1855-6 and 1872–3) and 40 degrees (winter 1844–5). Our summers (from June 1st to August 31st) have in the city a mean temperature of 76.8 degrees, and are calculated to reach in the country 75 degrees, ranging between the coolest summer, 71.5 degrees mean temperature (1835, 1839 and 1848), and the warmest of 80 degrees mean temperature, (1838, 1850 and especially 1854).
The last frosts in spring occur between March 13th and May 2d, on an average about April 5th, and the earliest autumnal frosts between October 4th and November 26th, on an average about October 27th; the
period between these two terms extends in different years from 184 to 252 days, on an average 205 days. In the southeast part of the state these limits of the freezing point will, of course, bė much wider apart, and in the northwest they are narrowed down considerably. Our spring opens in March, though in some favored seasons vegetation breaks through its wintry bounds already in the latter part of February, while in a few very late springs it cannot be said to have fairly commenced
a before the middle of April.
We find the first in bloom is the alder and the hazel; next—not rarely retarded by intervening cold spells— the soft or silver leaf maple; our common white elm blooms a few days after this, between February 24th and April 15th, on an average, March 19th. During the next following days, roses, syringas, gooseberries and many other bushes, and the weeping willows, show their young leaves. About two weeks after, the elm-between March 18th and April 25th, on an average about April 3d-the peach trees open their first blossoms, and are, one week later, in full bloom. Plum and pear trees and sweet cherries blossom about the same time, or a few days later, and then sour cherries and the glory of our rich woods, the red buds, get in bloom. Between March 21st and May 1st, (mean, April 14th) the early apple trees begin to bloom, and between March 28th and May 10th, (mean, April 20th) they may be said to be in full bloom.
The maturity and harvest of winter wheat immediately succeeds the catalpa bloom, between June 10th and July 1st, usually about June 20th. The mean summer temperature varies but little throughout the state. In the summer of 1873 the mean temperature in the southeast was found only one-half degree higher than that of the northeast, and the difference between St. Louis and the west was even less. Winter temperatures, however, show a wide range. The mean temperature of the southeastern part of the state is 21 to 3 degrees higher than at St. Louis, and 54 degrees higher than in the northeastern angle, and the mean temperature of Leavenworth, and the adjacent parts of Missouri, is fully 2 degrees less than that of the region about St. Louis.
In connection with our winter temperature it must be mentioned that the Mississippi at St. Louis freezes over about once in four or five years, partly, no doubt, in consequence of the heavy ice floating down from the north; and it then remains closed for one or two, or even four or six weeks, sometimes passable for the heaviest teams. Our river has been known to close as early as the first week in December, and in other years, to be open as late as the last week in February,while the running ice may impede or interrupt navigation between the end of November and the end of February, sometimes as low down as the southeast corner of the state; the river is said, however, never to freeze over below Cape Girardeau. The Missouri river is sometimes closed in the latter