1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Doubs (department)

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DOUBS, a frontier department of eastern France, formed in 1790 of the ancient principality of Montbéliard and of part of the province of Franche-Comté. It is bounded E. and S.E. by Switzerland, N. by the territory of Belfort and by Haute Saône, and W. and S.W. by Jura. Pop. (1906) 298,438. Area, 2030 sq. m. The department takes its name from the river Doubs, by which it is traversed. Between the Ognon, which forms the north-western limit of the department, and the Doubs, runs a range of low hills known as “the plain.” The rest of Doubs is mountainous, four parallel chains of the Jura crossing it from N.E. to S.W. The Lomont range, the lowest of these chains, dominates the left bank of the Doubs. The central region is occupied by hilly plateaux covered with pasturage and forests, while the rest of the department is traversed by the remaining three mountain ranges, the highest and most easterly of which contains the Mont d'Or (4800 ft.), the culminating point of Doubs. Besides the Doubs the chief rivers are its tributaries, the Dessoubre, watering the east of the department, and the Loue, which traverses its south-western portion. The climate is in general cold and rainy, and the winters are severe. The soil is stony and loamy, and at the higher levels there are numerous peat-bogs. Approximately a fifth of the total area is planted with cereals; more than a third is occupied by pasture. In its agricultural aspect the department may be divided into three regions. The highest, on which the snow usually lies from six to eight months in the year, is in part barren, but on its less exposed slopes is occupied by forests of fir trees, and affords good pasturage for cattle. In the second or lower region the oak, beech, walnut and sycamore flourish; and the valleys are susceptible of cultivation. The region of the plain is the most fertile, and produces all kinds of cereals as well as hemp, vegetables, vines and fruit. Cattle-rearing and dairy-farming receive much attention; large quantities of cheese, of the nature of Gruyère, are produced, mainly by the co-operative cheese-factories or fruitières. The rivers of the department abound in gorges and falls of great beauty. The most important manufactures are watches, made chiefly at Besançon and Morteau, hardware (Hérimoncourt and Valentigney), and machinery. Large iron foundries are found at Audincourt (pop. 5317) and other towns. The distillation of brandy and absinthe, and the manufacture of cotton and woollen goods, automobiles and paper, are also carried on. Exports include watches, live-stock, wine, vegetables, iron and hardware; cattle, hides, timber, coal, wine and machinery are imported. Large quantities of goods, in transit between France and Switzerland, pass through the department. Among its mineral products are building stone and lime, and there are peat workings. Doubs is served by the Paris-Lyon railway, the line from Dôle to Switzerland passing, via Pontarlier, through the south of the department. The canal from the Rhône to the Rhine traverses it for 84 miles.

The department is divided into the arrondissements of Besançon, Baume-les-Dames, Montbéliard and Pontarlier, with 27 cantons and 637 communes. It belongs to the académie (educational circumscription) and the diocese of Besançon, which is the capital, the seat of an archbishop and of a court of appeal, and headquarters of the VII. army corps. Besides Besançon the chief towns are Montbéliard and Pontarlier (qq.v.). Ornans, a town on the Loue, has a church of the 16th century and ruins of a feudal castle, which are of antiquarian interest. Montbenoît on the Doubs near Pontarlier has the remains of an Augustine abbey (13th to 16th centuries). The cloisters are of the 15th century, and the church contains, among other works of art, some fine stalls executed in the 16th century. Lower down the Doubs is the town of Morteau, with the Maison Pertuisier, a house of the Renaissance period, and a church which still preserves remains of a previous structure of the 13th century. Baume-les-Dames owes the affix of its name to a Benedictine convent founded in 763, to which only noble ladies were admitted. Numerous antiquities have been found at Mandeure (near Montbéliard), which stands on the site of the Roman town of Epomanduodurum.