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Regional Variation in the Lower Shenandoah Valley of Virginia Samuel T. Emory, Jr. Mary Washington College Lying adjacent to the famous poverty pockets of Appalachia, the lower Shenandoah Valley of Virginia appears as a region of agricultural richness. Clarke and Frederick counties (Fig. 1), which include the portion of the Valley in question, are nationally famous for their fertile soils and prosperous farms. The county unit statistics seem to support this reputation, since the 1263 farms of the two counties produced nearly $14,000,000 in agricultural goods in 1959, an average of $11,000 per farm. (1) But dark spots mar this prosperous picture. In spite of the high average income, half the farms had incomes below $2500 in 1959, while three farming units accounted for 14 per cent of the two counties' agricultural income. Distinct regions of differing prosperity and land use exist within the region. Since any sound plan for regional development must consider this fact, it is the purpose of this paper to investigate this regional variation and its causes, both physical and historic. PHYSICAL VARIATION. The differing land use and regional patterns of the lower Shenandoah Valley are directly related to the basic landform arrangement (Fig. 2). As can be seen from the generalized geology map (Fig. 3), five areas of distinctly different rocks may be discerned. (2) On the extreme east are the old metamorphic and crystalline rocks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, covered west of the Shenandoah River by the eastern limb of an eroded syncline consisting of limestone and dolomite. These calcareous rocks extend to the vicinity of Opequon Creek, where a belt of slightly calcareous shale lies along the axis of the syncline. Beyond this shale is the western limb of the syncline, with a repetition of the same calcareous rocks as in the east. These calcareous rocks disappear under the younger elastics to the west of Little North Mountain, which forms the western edge of the Shenandoah Valley. Within this region are several beds of limestone which contain small amounts of silica. This increases resistance to erosion sufficiently to produce low ridges. West of Little North Mountain the clastic rocks are folded into the linear ridges and valleys typical of the folded Appalachians. The five geologic regions are very closely reflected in the soils (Fig. 4) and slopes (Fig. 5) of the area. It is primarily through these two factors that the geology is reflected in the land use and agricultural productivity of the lower Shenandoah Valley. The association of these factors with the gross land use pattern of the region is quite apparent. As can be seen from the land use map (Fig. 6), the crystalline area has remained in forest, the two limestone belts are almost completely cleared, the central shale area is partly cleared, and the 22 The Southeastern Geographer WINCHESTER FREDERICK BERRYVILLE CLARKE Figure 1. Location of Clarke and Frederick counties, Virginia. MOUNTAINS£**¦¦ *wr ^M* Figure 2. Pattern of streams and mountains in Clarke and Frederick counties. Vol. IV, 1964 23 LEGEND ë lé  $ ?£¦ è ^£ ^ ê =*=» 2Ê£ ?" CRYSTALLINE FtOCKS MESTONE AND DOLOMITE Figure 3. Generalized geology of Clarke and Frederick counties. Based on Charles Butts, Geologic Map of the Appalachian Valley in Virginia. LEGEND ? r =73 DEEP FE -Tj soils Figure 4. Soil regions in Clarke and Frederick counties. 24 The Southeastern Geographer LEGEND oven 15« SLOPE LESS THAN I·* SLOPE Figure 5. Slope regions in Clarke and Frederick counties. Based on U.S.G.S. topographic maps. LEGEND . «a @g eS. · ^0 Figure 6. Land use in Clarke and Frederick counties. Based on 1954 air photography. Vol. IV, 1964 25 younger elastics in the west, outside the Valley, are largely wooded with linear strips of cleared land along the stream valleys. Orchards are localized on limestone ridges. These five geologic regions, as modified by historic and social factors, are reflected in the land use of the lower Shenandoah Valley to such an extent that they are the basis of five land-use regions (Fig. 7). These are the Blue Ridge Region, the Eastern Estate Region, the Central Farm and Woodland Region, the Western Farm and Orchard Region, and the Valley and Ridge Region. N^ N *S ? LEGEND •LUE...


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