Page:EB1911 - Volume 20.djvu/278

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
244
OREGON

Basin region, while the mean annual temperature is 44°, the highest and lowest ever recorded are respectively 104° and -32°. These records afford a striking illustration of the moderating influence of the ocean upon climate.

As is the case in all the Pacific states, the amount of rainfall decreases from N. to S., and is greatest on the seaward slopes of the hills and mountains. As the winds from the ocean are deprived of their moisture on reaching the Coast and Cascade ranges, the amount of annual precipitation, which in the coast counties varies from 75 to 138 in., constantly diminishes toward the E. until in the extreme south-eastern part of the state it amounts to only about 8 in. No other state, except perhaps Washington, has such a great variation in the amount of its rainfall. Precipitation on the Coast Range at altitudes above 2000 ft. amounts to about 138 in. annually; in the valleys E. of this range it varies from 20.2 in. at Ashland to 78.2 in. at Portland. On the western slope of the Cascades it varies from 50 in. in the S. to 100 in. in the N.; in the Columbia Valley the amount is from 10 to 15 in.; in the valleys and foothills of the Blue Mountains, 12 to 25 in.; and in the plateau region of central and south-eastern Oregon, 8 to 22 in. In the region W. of the Cascade Mountains there is a so-called wet season, which lasts from October to March, and the summers are almost rainless. In the rest of the state there is a maximum rainfall in the winter and a secondary wet season in May and June, with the rest of the summer very dry. During the winter the prevailing winds are from the S. and bring moisture; during the summer they are from the N.W. and are accompanied by cloudless skies and moderate temperatures. Winds from the N.E. bring hot weather in the summer and intense cold in the winter.

Soils.—The state has almost as great a variety of soils as of climate. In the Willamette Valley the soils are mostly clay loams, of a basaltic nature on the foothills and greatly enriched in the river bottom lands by washings from the hills and by deposits of rich black humus. In south-western Oregon, in the Rogue and Umpqua valleys, the characteristic soil is a reddish clay, though other varieties are numerous. In eastern Oregon the soils are of an entirely different type, being usually of a greyish appearance, lacking in humus, and composed of volcanic dust and alluvium from the uplands. They are deep, of fine texture, easily worked and contain abundant plant food in the form of soluble compounds of calcium, sodium and potassium. At times, however, these salts are present in such excess as to render the soils too alkaline for plant growing. Where there is no excess of alkali and the water supply is sufficient, good crops can be grown in this soil without the use of fertilizers.

Agriculture and Stock-Raising.—Oregon has some of the most productive agricultural lands in the United States, but they are rather limited in extent, being confined for the most part to the valleys west of the Cascade Mountains and the counties bordering on the Columbia river east of those mountains. The other parts of the state are generally too dry or too mountainous for growing crops, but contain considerable areas suitable for grazing. In 1900 only about one-sixth of the total land surface was included in farms, and a trifle less than one-third of the farm land was improved. There were 35,837 farms, and their average size was 281 acres. Of the whole number 33.0% (11,827) contained less than 100 acres each, 30.5% (11,055) contained from 100 to 175 acres each, and 10.4% (3727), devoted mainly to stock-raising, contained 500 acres or more each. Nearly four-fifths of the farms (28,636) were operated by owners or part owners, 3729 were operated by share tenants, 2637 by cash tenants and 835 by owners and tenants or managers. The principal crops are wheat, oats, hay, fruits, hops, potatoes and miscellaneous vegetables. Sheep and cattle are raised extensively on ranches in the semi-arid regions, large herds of cattle are kept on lands too wet for cultivation in the western counties, and stock-raising and dairying have become important factors in the operation of many of the best farms. The acreage of wheat was 810,000 in 1909 and the crop was 16,377,000 bushels. The oat crop was 10,886,000 bushels. The barley crop was 1,984,000 bushels. The nights are so cool that Indian corn is successfully grown only by careful cultivation, and the crop amounted to only 552,000 bushels in 1909. The hay crop, 865,000 tons in 1909, is made quite largely from wild grasses and grains cut green; on the irrigated lands alfalfa is grown extensively for the cattle and sheep, which are otherwise almost wholly dependent for sustenance upon the bunch grass of the semi-arid plains. Both cattle and sheep ranches in the region east of the Cascade Mountains have been considerably encroached upon by the appropriation of lands for agricultural purposes, and the cattle, also, have been forced to the south and east by the grazing of sheep on lands formerly reserved for them; but the numbers of both cattle and sheep on the farms have become much larger. The whole number of sheep in the state was 2,581,000 in 1910. The number of cattle other than dairy cows was 698,000 and that of dairy cows 174,000. The dairy business is a promising industry in the farming regions, especially in the Willamette Valley. The number of horses in 1910 was 308,000. The small number of swine (267,000 in 1910) is partly due to the small crop of Indian corn. Fruit-growing has been an increasingly important industry in the region between the Cascade and Coast Ranges and (to a less degree) east of the Cascade Range; and the cultivation of apples is especially important. The cultivation of hops was begun in Oregon about 1850; the soil and climate of the Willamette Valley were found to be exceedingly favourable to their growth, and the product increased to 20,500,000 lb in 1905, when the state ranked first in the Union in this industry.

The agricultural resources of the state may be considerably increased by irrigation east of the Cascade Mountains. The irrigated areas, which are widely distributed, increased from a total of 177,944 acres in 1889 to 388,310 acres in 1902. In 1894 Congress passed the “Carey Act” which authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, with the approval of the President, to donate to each of the states in which there are Federal desert lands as much of such lands (less than 1,000,000 acres) as the state may apply for, on condition that the state reclaim by irrigation, cultivation and occupancy not less than 20 acres of each 160-acre tract within ten years, and under the operation of this Act the state chose 432,203 acres for reclamation, mostly in the basin of the Deschutes river. Furthermore there is a state association engaged in irrigation projects, and the United States Reclamation Service, established by an Act of Congress in 1902, has projects for utilizing the flood waters of the Umatilla, Malheur, Silvies and Grande Ronde rivers, the waters of the Owyhee and Wallowa rivers and Willow Creek, and the waters of some of the lakes in the central part of the state. Two of these projects had been begun by 1909: the Umatilla project in Umatilla county, to irrigate 20,440 acres with water diverted from the Umatilla river by a dam (98 ft. high, 3500 ft. long) 2 m. above Echo, with a reservoir of 1500 acres, was authorized in 1905 and was 85½% finished in 1909; the Klamath project, to irrigate 181,000 acres in Klamath county, Oregon (about 145,000 acres) and Siskiyou and Modoc counties, California, by two canals from Upper Klamath Lake and by a storage dam (33 ft. high, 940 ft. long) in the Clear Lake reservoir of 25,000 acres, was authorized in 1905 and was 38% completed in 1909. It has been estimated that the irrigated and irrigable area under private canals is about 80,000 acres, and that that still indisposed of in 1909, irrigated by the state under the Carey Act, amounted to 180,000 acres.

Fisheries.—The Columbia river has long been famous for its salmon, and as the supply seemed threatened with exhaustion for several years following the maximum catch in 1883, the state legislature in 1901 passed an act establishing a close season both early in the spring and late in the summer and prohibiting any fishing, except with hook and line, at any time, without a licence. In 1908 two laws proposed by initiative petition were passed, stopping all fishing by night and fishing in the navigable channels of the lower river, limiting the length of seines to be used in the lower river and abolishing the use of gear by fishermen of the upper river — the mouth of the Sandy river, in Multnomah county, being the dividing line between the upper and lower Columbia. Several hatcheries have been established by the state authorities of Oregon and Washington and by the Federal government for propagating the best varieties: the Chinooks (O. tschawytscha), the bluebacks (O. nerka) and, when the bluebacks became scarce, silver sides (O. kisutch). The total catch of salmon on the Oregon side of the Columbia river in 1901 was 16,725,435 lb; from this it rose to 24,575,228 lb in 1903, but fell to 18,151,743 lb in 1907 and 18,463,546 in 1908. Salmon are caught in smaller quantities in the coast streams: 4,371,618 lb in 1901 and 8,043,690 lb in 1906, but only 6,738,682 lb in 1907 and 6,422,511 lb in 1908. Some catfish, shad, smelt, halibut, herring, perch, sturgeon, flounders, oysters, clams, crabs and crawfish are also obtained from Oregon waters.

Minerals.—Gold was discovered in the Rogue and Klamath rivers in the S. part of Oregon in 1852, and placer-mining was prosecuted here without interruption until 1860, when the metal was found in larger quantities on the streams in Baker and Grant counties in the north-eastern part of the state. Quartz-mining has since very largely taken the place of placer-mining, but the two principal gold-producing districts are still that traversed by the Blue Mountains in the north-eastern quarter and that drained by the Rogue river in the south-western corner, a continuation of the California field. The value of the total output of the state was $2,113,356 in 1894, but only $865,076 in 1908. Silver is obtained almost wholly in the form of alloy with gold, and in 1908 the value of the output was only $23,109. Lignitic coal was discovered on or near the coast of Coos Bay as early as 1855, and this is still the only productive coalfield within the state, although there are outcroppings of the mineral all along the Coast Range N. of the Rogue river, along the W. foothills of the Cascade Range and in the Blue Mountains; this coal is suitable for steam and heating purposes but will not coke. The quantity of the output was 86,259 short tons in 1908. Copper ores are known to be quite widely distributed in the mountain districts, but there has been little work on any except some in Josephine and Grant counties; in 1908 the state's output amounted to 291,377 lb of copper. Iron ore, platinum, lead, quicksilver and cobalt have been obtained in the state in merchantable quantities, and there is some zinc ore in the Cascade Range. In Union county is a great amount of blue limestone, and there is limestone, also, in Baker, Grant, Wallowa, Jackson and Josephine counties. Sandstone is abundant, and there is some granite, in the Coast Range. A variegated marble is obtained in Douglas county, and other marbles are found in several counties. Clays suitable for making brick and tile are found in nearly every part of the state: in 1908 the clay products of the state were valued at $555,768. Soapstone is abundant in both the E. and W. counties. Ochre, or mineral paint, and mineral waters, too, are widely