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West Virginia

Its Farms and Forests, Mines and Oil-Wells

J. R. Dodge

Publication Year: 2011

West Virginia: Its Farms and Forests, Mines and Oil-Wells celebrates the state of West Virginia. Originally published in 1865 as a series of studies on mineral resources, observations on agriculture, and interviews with businessmen, West Virginia details the industrial statistics, terrain, and population of a state during its infancy. With no record of natural wealth or reported transactions of agriculture or geography prior to this overview, West Virginia sparked the curiosity of non-residents, enticing investment and settlement through descriptions of abundant natural resources and an agreeable industrial condition. With an introduction by Kenneth R. Bailey, this new edition reminds us of the state’s alluring beginning and rich, yet often exploited development.

Published by: West Virginia University Press

Series: West Virginia Classics

Front Cover

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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-xx

In November 1864, The New York Times announced that the United States Department of Agriculture had printed 160,000 copies of its Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture for 1863, which included “the agricultural status and prospects of Western Virginia.” ...

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pp. 1-2

The oak that graces the mountain-slope has come from an acorn planted by an errant squirrel. From a seed as small, dropped in a Kanawha Valley mail-bag in equal unconsciousness of hidden germlife, this volume has grown, little by little. Like the forest oak, its growth has been natural, without pruning or “pinching back,” …

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Chapter I

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pp. 3-15

The “logic of events” is but the dictum of Deity. It shows how God disposes of what man proposes. The “pride” that “goeth before destruction” is sometimes only the Christian name of the madness inspired by “the gods” in their victims. The humbling of the pride of Virginia secession was largely wrought, …

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Chapter II

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pp. 16-30

Settlements began to extend across the mountains immediately after the close of the revolutionary war. Localities in Greenbrier and Berkeley, and other counties, were settled before its close. Virginia, in 1781, had already a population of five hundred and sixty-seven thousand six hundred and fourteen …

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Chapter III

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pp. 31-43

A more central and accessible location could scarcely be pointed out upon the map of the United States; not central in a continental sense, but eminently so as regards the Atlantic seaboard and the area almost encircled by the lakes, the upper Mississippi and Ohio rivers; central as regards the populous cities, …

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Chapter IV

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pp. 44-56

A study of causes affecting the climatic condition of West Virginia will be found interesting. In its latitude, lying as it does mainly between 37° and 40° north, it is neither suggestive of hyperborean blasts in winter, nor a torrid temperature in summer; of pent-up valleys, blockaded with drifted snow and solid ice for weary months, …

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Chapter V

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pp. 57-65

It is proposed to take a cursory view of the several counties comprising the State, grouped in natural divisions, with a glance at the topography and statistics of each section. A few isolated, representative facts, happening together, as by accident, will answer instead of a description, which would fill a volume in itself, …

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Chapter VI

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pp. 66-72

The mountain section proper has an elevation from thirteen hundred to two thousand five hundred feet above the sea level, including Preston, Tucker, Randolph, Hardy, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Greenbrier, and Monroe counties. Those north of Greenbrier and west of the summit of the main ridge may appropriately be considered together. …

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Chapter VII

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pp. 73-83

The little point upon the northwestern boundary, entering as a wedge between the Keystone and Buckeye States, is regarded with wonder by casual map observers, who cannot account for so strange a freak in surveying, yet it is easily accounted for when it is recollected that Virginia once owned the territory west of Pennsylvania …

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Chapter VIII

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pp. 84-92

The river counties, excepting those of the “Panhandle,” and those south of the Kanawha, are Wetzel, Tyler, Pleasants, Wood, and Jackson. They contain a great variety of soil, from light silicious to deep alluvial of the river bottoms, with hill-tops of decomposed shales in a large admixture of humus, …

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Chapter IX

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pp. 93-102

There are few localities promising more attractions to industrial enterprise, or higher rewards to free labor, than the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia. Climate, soil, timber, fuel (wood above and coal below), minerals in variety, water-power, navigation two thousand miles to the Gulf of Mexico, …

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Chapter X

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pp. 103-106

The counties south of the Kanawha—Boone, Cabell, Wayne, Logan, Wyoming, and McDowell—are mountainous, covered in great part with original forests heavily timbered, well watered by the Guyandotte, Sandy, and other rivers, and exceedingly rich in iron, coal, and other minerals. …

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Chapter XI

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pp. 107-118

Having traversed the borders of the State, let the reader glance at the broad area embraced in the interior counties, which are drained by the Monongahela and its branches, the Little Kanawha, the Elk, and the Gauley, with numerous smaller streams, which mingle with the waters of the Ohio or the Kanawha. …

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Chapter XII

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pp. 119-126

A statement of the farm products of West Virginia2 will not indicate an extraordinary production in proportion to population, nor will it show so eager a result as most people in other States would have predicted. In view of the fact that a large element of the population has been that of the forerunner of civilization, the pioneer, ...

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Chapter XIII

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pp. 127-135

The state of Virginia has undertaken many enterprises, and expended much money, obtained by general taxation, for the construction of roads and the improvement of rivers; but that portion of the State now constituting West Virginia has shared little in those benefits. Her interests have been ignored, her mineral treasures left inaccessible, …

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Chapter XIV

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pp. 136-142

Whatever may be said of the capacity of this new mountain State for general agricultural industry, or for the special rural enterprises of so much promise as fruit-growing, wine-making, dairying, or wool production, it cannot be denied that untold wealth is awaiting development in the hillsides, upon the river banks, …

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Chapter XV

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pp. 143-148

The iron ores of West Virginia are destined to prove prolific sources of wealth when capital shall organize labor for their reduction, and avenues of communication to commercial centres are somewhat increased. Furnaces exist in the valley and in Preston county, and possibly other sections of the State. …

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Chapter XVI

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pp. 149-155

The astonishing magnitude into which the subject of petroleum has arisen within ten years past, and the important part which West Virginia is destined to play in the development of this interest, now so prominent before the world, require more than a single chapter in the present exhibit of the resources of the State. …

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Chapter XVII

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pp. 156-160

The origin of petroleum has elicited the attention of the scientific and the unlettered alike, and if both have not been at times equally visionary and absurd, each has been equally at variance with other individuals of his own class. There are doubtless fewer opinions than persons in the debate; …

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Chapter XVIII

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pp. 161-172

Geologists are agreed that there is no specific oil-bearing rock, reliable, wherever found, for oleaginous treasures. Oil is found in sandstone, in shales, in serpentine, and in the loose sand of the surface. In West Virginia it occurs in the coal measures overlying the Devonian deposits; in Pennsylvania, in the upper sandstones of the Devonian series; …

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Chapter XIX

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pp. 173-178

The laboratory of the chemist is full of the wonders of petroleum, which is pouring a flood of blessings upon the world in the creation of new branches of industry. The scientific zeal of Reichenbach, in the separation of many of its constituents, is rivalled by the industry and skill of others in discovering new combinations of these elements, ...

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Chapter XX

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pp. 179-184

The first operation in “well boring,” which is really well drilling, is to dig through the soil to the cap-rock, and insert a wooden box about eight inches square—called a “conductor,” because designed as a guide to the drill, through which it is inserted. Then the derrick, a square, steeple-like frame, is built, ...

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Chapter XXI

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pp. 185-191

The dawning of the era of petroleum has thrown an unaccustomed light upon the quiet and lonely forest hills of West Virginia. A century since, the wild deer and the wilder Indian were undisturbed possessors; a little later, the white hunter began to encroach upon those game preserves, shooting with equal zest a fat buck or a tough Indian; ...

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Chapter XXII

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pp. 192-198

One mile below the junction of the North and South Forks of Hughes’ River, and five miles south of Petroleum Station, on the north bank of the river, is the site of the noted “sand diggings,” which supplied, for medical uses, many barrels of oil yearly; ...

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Chapter XXIII

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pp. 199-203

The central district of West Virginia is daily becoming better known, and gaining high appreciation among the workers in oil. Three years ago, while gas springs and oil shows were common in this region, few people at home imagined it possible that oil in paying quantities could exist there, ...

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Chapter XXIV

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pp. 204-209

Mason County, on the Ohio, at the mouth of the Great Kanawha, is participating in the petroleum excitement. Its salt has long been a valuable product; its coal fields, identical with the rich and profitable Pomeroy deposits, on the opposite bank of the Ohio, are regarded as the most valuable on the river; ...

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Chapter XXV

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pp. 210-222

In exceptional case a well is bored and pumped by an individual. The almost invariable rule is, the establishment of a partnership, or the formation of a stock company. As prices advanced, the latter course became a necessity. As in Pennsylvania, the practice, of doubtful expediency,

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Chapter XXVI

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pp. 223-227

“Will the oil product of the country decrease?” is the anxious inquiry of interested parties. So far as West Virginia is concerned, it may safely be asserted, that this species of mining is in its infancy. To persons unacquainted with the peculiarities of the business, the assumed decrease in production, ...

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About Jacob Richards Dodge

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pp. 228

Jacob Richards Dodge (1823-1902) was the first statistician for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He was responsible for compiling agricultural statistics for the Tenth Census in 1880 and was recognized by an international community of statisticians when he received a gold medal at the Paris Exposition ...

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781935978121
E-ISBN-10: 1935978128
Print-ISBN-13: 9781935978114
Print-ISBN-10: 1935978128

Page Count: 227
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: West Virginia Classics