through the region is not likely to recognize the valley form, as most of the roads are in smaller valleys between the ridges, but once gain some commanding elevation and the great valley is seen stretching away, its ridges and hills melting into insignificance on its apparently level bottom. The decomposed rock makes a fertile soil which early attracted settlers. From New York to Alabama it is the abode of a prosperous people with well tilled farms and comfortable homes.
Extending westward from the valley is a plateau region which merges on the north and west into the Mississippi valley and is known
as the Cumberland Plateau. The geologist finds no difficulty in accounting for the transition from valley to plateau when the rock arrangement is seen. Here instead of the highly tilted strata of the valley, the rock layers are nearly horizontal. Instead of the troughs and ridges of the valley, the surface, while rough, has an even sky line which tells of a former approximately level surface. The elevations are steep and the streams seem to have no regular arrangement—in short, this region is a 'dissected' plateau. The surface stratum of rock in general is a sandstone which is underlaid by a stratum of more easily soluble limestone. When a stream has cut through the sandstone layer and reaches the limestone, it deepens its valley more rapidly than before and consequently flows in a steep trench.
The overlying sandstone protects the limestone beneath and prevents