1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Vosges (France)

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VOSGES, a frontier department of eastern France, formed in 1790 chiefly of territory previously belonging to Lorraine, together with portions of Franche-Comté and Champagne, and bounded N. by the department of Meurthe-et-Moselle, E. by Alsace, S.E. by the territory of Belfort, S. by the department of Haute-Saône, W. by Haute-Marne and N.W, by Meuse. Pop. (1906) 429,812; area, 2279 sq. m. The Vosges mountains (see below) form a natural boundary on the east, their highest French eminence, the Hohneck, attaining 4482 ft. The Monts Faucilles traverse the south of the department in a broad curve declining on the north into elevated plateaus, on the south encircling the upper basin of the Saône. This chain, dividing the basins cf the Rhone and the Rhine, forms part of the European watershed between the basins of the Mediterranean and Atlantic. The Moselle and the Meuse, tributaries of the Rhine, have the largest drainage areas in the department; a small district in the N.W. sends its waters to the Seine, the rest belongs to the basin of the Rhone. The Moselle rises in the Col de Bussang in the extreme south-east, and in a N.N.W. course of about 70 m. in the department receives the Moselotte and the Vologne on the right; the Mortagne and Meurthe on the right and the Madon on the left bank also belong to this department though they join the Moselle outside its borders. The source of the Saône is on the southern slope of the Faucilles. On the shore of Lake Gérardmer lies the beautifully situated town of Gérardmer, a well-known centre for mountain excursions.

The elevation and the northward exposure of the valleys make the climate severe, and a constant dampness prevails, owing both to the abundance of the rainfall and to the impermeability of the subsoil. The average temperature at Épinal (1070 ft.) is 49° F. The annual rainfall at Épinal is 28 in., at St Dié 32 in. and in the mountains more. Arable farming flourishes in the western districts where wheat, oats and potatoes are largely grown. The vine is cultivated on the river banks, to best advantage on those of the Moselle. Pasture is abundant in the mountainous region, where cheese-making is carried on to some extent, but the best grazing is in the central valleys. Forests, which occupy large tracts on the flanks of the Vosges, cover about one-third of the department, and are a principal source of its wealth. Sawmills are numerous in the Vosges and the manufacture of furniture, sabots, brushes and woodworking in general are prominent industries. The department has mines of lignite and stone quarries of various kinds. There are numerous mineral springs, of which those of Contrexéville, Plombières, Vittel, Bains-les-Bains, Martigny-les-Bains and Bussang may be named. The manufacture of textiles is the chief industry, comprising the spinning and weaving of cotton, wool, silk, hemp and flax, and the manufacture of hosiery and of embroidery and lace, Mirecourt (pop. 5092) being an important centre for the two last. The department forms the diocese of St Dié (province of Besançon), has its court of appeal and educational centre at Nancy, and belongs to the district of the XX. Army Corps. It is divided into the arrondissements of Épinal, Mirecourt, Neufchâteau, Remiremont and St Dié, with 29 cantons and 530 communes.