Presentation on theme: "In the Upstate, before the mid- twentieth century, the history of erosion is the history of agriculture."— Presentation transcript:
In the Upstate, before the mid- twentieth century, the history of erosion is the history of agriculture.
At its essence, environmental history examines the interplay between culture (human agency) and nature (the environment).
The Chief Factors Influencing Erosion in the Upcountry, 1800 to 1930 Environmental Soil composition Topography (slope of the land) Rainfall (amount and intensity) Cultural Extent of land under cultivation Type of crops grown Techniques of tillage
“... the destroying angel has visited these once fair forests and limpid streams... the farms, the fields... are washed and worn into unsightly gullies and barren slopes—everything, everywhere betrays improvident and reckless management.” --J. H. Davis, Laurens County, 1853
“The Enoree is now a turbid stream, discolored by the dissolving clay of a wasted soil: but... the Kewhohee [Keowee] is the most beautiful river in Carolina. Its waters are still as pure and transparent as when they bathed the limbs of the first boisterous group of Cherokee youths who lived upon the its fertile banks.” --John H. Logan, A History of the Upper Country of South Carolina (1859 )
Farmers of the upper Piedmont will fall “into the same fatal error of the planters of the middle and lower country.... In their eagerness to grow rich, they will cut down there timber and burn the brush which ought to be used in building brakes or hedgerows along the hillsides to secure the land against washing.... Their uplands will be washed away, their bottom lands covered with the sand of the hill side ditches.” --un-named observer quoted in 1873, from A. R. Hall, “Soil Erosion and Agriculture in the Southern Piedmont” (Dissertation Duke Univ )
“The reckless and exhaustive system of cultivation practiced upon our large farms, before the war, has left us a legacy of poverty in the soil. The natural increase of the labor under the system of slavery, made corresponding demands for open lands, and the forests were mercilessly slaughtered, and fields, failing in maximum yields, were left to be washed away by the rains and scarred into gaping gullies.” --Southern Cultivator in the Greenville Mountaineer, 1886
A deep gully in Spartanburg, circa 1930s. (Geographic Journal, Vol. 102, Nov.-Dec. 1943)
Streams are “in many places filling up with detritus, sand and mud... which is washed in from the hill sides so that many shoals are rapidly being obliterated, and at many places where within the memory of middle aged men there were shoals or falls of 5 to 10 feet, at present scarcely any shoals can be noticed.” --U. S. Bureau of the Census, Water Power of the United States (1885)
Gully system developing, fed by erosion rills following old plough furrows. Spartanburg, circa 1930s. (Geographic Journal, Vol. 102, Nov.- Dec. 1943)