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2 > Page 2 of Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky mountains : a study in anthropogeography / by Ellen Churchill Semple.

The Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky Mountains Appalachians are distinguished by a central zone of depression, flanked on the east by the Appalachian Mountains proper, and on the west by the Allegheny and the Cumberland Plateaus. This central trough is generally designated as the Great Appalachian Valley. It is depressed several hundred feet below the highlands on either side, but its surface is relieved by intermittent series of even-crested ridges which rise iooo feet or more above the general level, running parallel to each other, and conforming at the same time to the structural axis of the whole system. The valleys between them owe neither wvidth nor form to the streams which drain them. The Cumberland Plateau forms the western highland of the Great Valley in Eastern Kent ucky, Tennessee, and Northern Alabama. This plateau belt reaches its greatest height in Kentucky, and slopes gradually from this section to the south and west. Its eastern escarpment rises abruptly 800 to i500 feet from the Great Valley, and shows everywhere an almost perfectly straight skyline. The western escarpment is very irregular, for the streams, flowing westward from the plateau, have carved out their valleys far back into the elevated district, leaving narrow spurs running out into the low plains beyond. The surface is highly dissected, presenting a maze of gorge-like valleys separating the steep, regular slopes of the sharp or rounded hills. The level of the originally upheaved mass of the plateau is now represented by the altitude of the existing summits, which show a remarkable unifonnity in the northeast-southwest line, and a slight rise in elevation from the western margin towards the interior. About io,ooo square -miles of the Cumberland Plateau fall within the confines of the State of Kentucky, and form the eastern section of the State. A glance at the topographical map of the region shows the country to be devoted by nature to isolation and poverty. The east- ern rim of the plateau is formed by Pine Mountain, which raises its solid wall with level top in silhouette against the sky, and shows only one water-gap in a distance of 150 miles. And just beyond is the twin range of the Cumberland. Hence no railroads have attempted to cross this double border-barrier, except at the northeast and southeast corners of the State, where the Big Sandy and Cumber- land Rivers have carved their way through mountains to the west. Railroads, therefore, skirt this upland region, but nowhere penetrate it. The whole area is a coalfield, the mineral being chiefly bitumin- ous, with several thousand square miles of superior cannel coal. The obstructions growing out of the topography of the country, and the cheap river transportations afforded by the Ohio for the Kanawha 2