CHAPTER I. PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION OF NORTH CAROLINA.
The State of North Carolina is included between the parallels 34° and 362° north latitude, and between the meridians 752° and 842° west longitude. Its western boundary is the crest of the Smoky Mountains, which, with the Blue Ridge, forms a part of the great Appalachian system, extending almost from the mouth of the St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico; its eastern is the Atlantic Ocean. Its mean breadth from north to south is about one hundred miles; its extreme breadth is one hundred and eighty-eight miles. The extreme length of the State from east to west is five hundred miles. The area embraced within its boundaries is fifty-two thousand two hundred and eighty-six square miles.
2. The climate of North Carolina is mild and equable. This is due in part to its geographical position; midway, as it were, between the northern and southern limits of the Union. Two other causes concur to modify it; the one, the lofty Appalachian chain, which forms, to some extent, a shield from the bleak winds of the northwest; the other, the softening influence of the Gulf Stream, the current of which sweeps along near its shores.
3. The result of these combined causes is shown in the character of the seasons. Fogs are almost unknown; frosts occur not until the middle of October; ice rarely forms of a sufficient thickness to be gathered; snows are light, seldom remaining on the ground more than two or three days. The average rainfall is about fifty- three inches, which is pretty uniformly distributed throughout the year. The climate is eminently favorable to health and longevity.
4. The State falls naturally into three divisions or sections— the Western or Mountain section, the Middle or Piedmont section, and the Eastern or Tidewater section. The first consists of mountains, many of them rising to towering heights, the highest, indeed, east of the Rocky Mountains. It is bounded on the east by the Blue Ridge and on the west by the Smoky Mountains. The section inclosed within these limits is in shape somewhat like an ellipse. Its length is about one hundred and eighty miles; its average breadth from twenty to fifty miles. It is a high plateau, from the plane of which many lofty mountains everywhere rise, and on its border the culminating points of the Appalachian system—the Roau, the Grandfather and the Black—lift their heads to the sky. Between the mountains are fertile valleys, plentifully watered by streams, many of them remarkable for their beauty. The mountains themselves are wooded, except a few which have prairies on their summits, locally distinguished as "balds." This section has long been one of the favorite resorts of the tourist and the painter.
5. The Middle section lies between the Blue Ridge and the falls where the rivers make their descent into the great plain which forms the Eastern section of the State. Its area comprises nearly one-half of the territory of the State. Throughout the greater part it presents an endless succession of hills and dales, though the surface near the mountains is of a bolder and sometimes of a rugged cast....