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4 > Page 4 of Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky mountains : a study in anthropogeography / by Ellen Churchill Semple.

The Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky Mountains Appalachians, cuts westward by flaring water-gaps through chain after chain and opens a highway from the interior of the system to the plains of the Mississippi. The Kentucky streams are navigable only to the margin of the plateau, and therefore leave this great area without natural means of communication with the outside world to the west, while to the east the mountain wall has acted as an effective barrier to communication with the Atlantic seaboard. Consequently, all commerce has been kept at arms' length, and the lack of a market has occasioned the poverty of the people,')which, in turn, has pro- hibited the construction of highroads over the mountains of the Cumberland Plateau. It is what the mountaineers themselves call a. rough country. The steep hills rise from 700 to 1200 feet above their valleys. The valleys are nothing more than gorges. Level land there is none, and roads there are almost none. Valley and road and mountain stream coin- cide. In the summer the dry or half-dry beds of the streams serve as highways; and in the winter, when the torrents are pouring a full tide down the hollows, foot trails cut through the dense forest that mantles the slopes are the only means of communication. Then inter- course is practically cut off. Even in the best season transportation is in the main limited to what a horse can carry on its back beside its rider. In a trip of 350 miles through the mountains, we met only one wheel vehicle and a few trucks for hauling railroad ties, which m ere being gotten out of the forests. Our own camp waggons, though carrying only light loads, had to double their teams in climb- ing the ridges. All that had been done in most cases to make a road over a mountain was to clear an avenue through the dense growth of timber, so that it proved, as a rule, to be j ust short of impassable. For this reason the public of the mountains prefer to keep to the valleys with their streams, to which they have given many expressive and picturesque names, while the knobs and mountains are rarely honored with a name. We have Cutshin Creek, Hell-fer-Sartain, Bullskin Creek, Poor Fork, Stinking, Greasy, and Quicksand Creek. One trail leads from the waters of Kingdom-Come down Lost Creek and Troublesome, across the Upper Devil and Lower Devil to Hell Creek. Facilis descensus Averno, only no progress is easy in these mountains. The creek, therefore, points the highway, and is used to designate geographical locations. When we would inquire our way to a certain point, the answer was, "Go ahead to the fork of the creek, and turn up the left branch," not the fork of the road and the path to the left. A woman at whose cabin we lunched one day said, 4