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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/883

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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

usually a belt of lowland, few or many miles wide, called the Coastal Plain. Inland from the Coastal Plain is an intermediate height, between the Coastal Plain to the east and the mountains to the west, known in the South as the Piedmont Plateau. The mountainous part of the slope constitutes the third province, known as the Appalachian Zone. The Atlantic slope may be divided into two sections—a northern and a southern—in which the Coastal Plain is narrow and wide respectively. These two sections meet in New Jersey, where the division runs from the Raritan River, just below New Brunswick, to Trenton. South of this line the Coastal Plain expands, and all considerable elevations recede correspondingly from the shore. These three subprovinces are especially well shown in the southern section of the Atlantic slope. They are less well developed in the northern section, and even where the topography is comparable the underlying rock structure is different. In New Jersey a fourth belt, the Triassic formation, is interposed between the Coastal Plain and the Highlands corresponding to the Piedmont Plateau. North of New Jersey the Coastal Plain has little development, though Long Island and some small areas farther east and northeast are to be looked upon as parts of it.

 

American Fresh-water Pearls.—The facts cited by Mr. George F. Kunz in his paper, published in the Report of the United States Fish Commission, on the Fresh-water Pearls and Pearl Fisheries of the United States, give considerable importance to this feature of our natural history. The mound explorations attest that fresh-water pearls were gathered and used by the prehistoric peoples of the country "to an extent that is astonishing On the hearths of some of these mounds in Ohio the pearls have been found, not by hundreds, but by thousands and even by bushels—now, of course, damaged and half decomposed by centuries of burial and by the heat of superficial fires." The narratives of the early Spanish explorers make several mentions of pearls in the possession of the Indians. For a considerable period after the first explorations, however, American pearls attracted but little attention, and "for some two centuries the Unios [or 'freshwater mussels'] lived and multiplied in the rivers and streams, unmolested by either the native tribes that had used them for food, or by the pioneers of the new race that had not yet learned of their hidden treasures." Within recent years the gathering of Unio pearls has attained such importance as to start economical problems warranting and even demanding careful and detailed inquiry. The first really important discovery of Unio pearls was made near Paterson, N. J., in 1857, in the form of the "queen pearl" of fine luster, weighing ninety-three grains, which was sold to Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III, for twenty-five hundred dollars, and is now worth four times that amount. As a result the Unios at Notch Brook, where it was found, were gathered by the million and destroyed. Within a year fully fifteen thousand dollars' worth of pearls were sent to the New York market. Then the shipments gradually fell off. Some of the best American pearls that were next found were at Waynesville, Ohio, where Mr. Israel H. Harris formed an exceedingly fine collection. It contained more than two thousand specimens, weighing more than as many grains. Among them were one button-shaped on the back and weighing thirty-eight grains, several almost transparent pink ones, and one shoeing where the pearl had grown almost entirely through the Unio. In 1889 a number of magnificently colored pearls were found at different places in the creeks and rivers of Wisconsin, of which more than ten thousand dollars' worth were sent to New York within three months. These discoveries led to immense activity in pearl hunting through all the streams of the region, and in three or four seasons the shells were nearly exhausted. The pearl fisheries of this State have produced at least two hundred and fifty thousand dollars' worth of pearls since 1889. Another outbreak of the "pearl mania" occurred in Arkansas in 1897, and extended into the Indian Territory, Missouri, Georgia, and other States.

 

Distribution of Cereals in the United States.—To inquiries made preparatory to drawing up a report on the Distribution of Cereals in North America (Department of Agriculture, Biological Survey), Mr. C. S. Plumb received one thousand and thirty-three