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HISTORY OF CARROLL COUNTY IOWA

A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement

VOLUME I ILLUSTRATED
CHICAGO THE S. J. CLARKE PUBLISHING COMPANY 1912

Digitized for Microsoft Corporation by the Internet Archive in 2008.
From New York Public Library.
May be used for non-commercial, personal, research, or education purposes, or any fair use.
May not be indexed in a commercial service.

 

Transcribed and donated by Marilyn Setzler.

  CHAPTER XVII.
 

CHAPTER XVII PDF File

Page 187          Page 188          Page 189

 

ORLANDO H. MANNING POINTS OUT FEATURES IN WHICH CARROLL COUNTY IS FAVORED BEYOND OTHERS—THE AFFINITY OF THE LOESS OR BLUFF DEPOSIT TO THE SOILS OF THE RHINE, NILE AND YELLOW RIVER VALLEYS—THE GREAT DEPTH AND PERMANENT FERTILITY OF THE MISSOURI RIVER ALLUVIUM—THE ADVANTAGES OF THE COUNTY DERIVED FROM SADDLING THE TRANS-CONTINENTAL DIVIDE—THE LOSS TO EASTERN AGRICULTURAL LANDS FROM THE TRITURATING ACTION OF RAINS AND FLOODS—CORN AS KING OF AMERICAN CROPS AND THE UNDEVELOPED USES TO WHICH ITS PRODUCTS MAY BE APPLIED—MR. MANNING PARTLY APPLIES OLD "MIS" MEANS' ADVICE: "GIT A-PLINTY WHILE Y'U ARE A-GITTIN'."

 

The following letter from among the correspondence of the late Judge Geo. W. Paine, from the pen of the late Hon. O. H. Manning, is an expression of candid judgment upon the subject to which it relates from an unbiased and fully disinterested and most intelligent observer. An observer, by the way, whose attachments to Carroll county in any other than a sentimental sense,—since it was the scene of the beginnings of a career, both useful and distinguished, of the writer himself—had long since disappeared. The document, as a part of a personal correspondence, was written with no intent to the end to which we apply it or to publicity in any form.

NEW YORK CITY, May 1, 1907.

Hon. Geo. W. Paine, Carroll, Iowa.

 MY DEAR JUDGE: Thanks for your letter telling me of the rapid rise in price and selling values of Carroll county, Iowa, farm lands. I am not surprised. I always was an optimist in regard to Carroll county ever since I went there just thirty-nine years ago this month, a poor boy, to seek my fortune and grow up with the county and its people. I am as enthusiastic about its future today as I was then and with more reason, for I better appreciate the intrinsic values in its lands and soils than I did then.

I think that in many respects Carroll county is favored beyond any other county in Iowa. It lays astride of the great divide in western Iowa which parts the waters which seek the Missouri river from those that flow to the Mississippi and its tributaries to the east. It thus lays higher up than the counties to the east and north, and has better drainage and has been saved the enormous expense entailed upon the people of these other counties for tiling, ditching and draining in order to get their lands up out of the wet, while at the same time the lands on the western slopes of Carroll county are less rolling and steep than those in the counties to the west and south, where the streams cut deeper into the land and the slopes are more precipitous.

I do not think there are any better lands or richer soils on earth than in the region around the town of Manning in Carroll county and, in fact, all of that part of Carroll county which has the so-called "Bluff deposit" or loess soils. The loess of western Iowa was undoubtedly a deposit made by the Missouri river when it was in such enormous flood that it spread out all over western Iowa clear up to where now runs the South Raccoon river. If you will go up to the Bad Lands in western North Dakota and eastern Montana you will see where the Missouri river ages ago robbed the region of its friable soils which it transported down stream and laid all over western Iowa in a deposit twenty-five to two hundred feet in thickness. This "Bluff deposit" or loess is identical in its characteristics and mode of origin with the soils in the valleys of the Rhine in Germany, the Nile in Egypt, and the great rivers of China.

Professor Fletcher, of the Michigan Agricultural College, in his work on soils just published (1907) says of the loess soils: "The name loess is applied chiefly to large areas of soils that have been carried to their present resting places by water. There are large deposits in the valley of the Rhine, the famous Steppes of Russia and the inland plains of China. Loess sons are noted for their great depth and remarkable fertility. In China they have produced bountiful crops for over three thousand years with little apparent diminution of fertility. The richness of our own loess soils in the central west are well known."

It seems to me that the owners of lands in the counties in western Iowa like Carroll county, who are selling their lands at the prices you name (around $100 per acre) are even now making as great a mistake as I did when I sold Carroll county lands a third of a century ago at $10, $15 and $20 per acre. The land owners in western Iowa will some day wake up to a realization of the fact that there is a mighty force at work which is slowly but surely working the ruin and destruction of the farm lands of this country from the disastrous effects of which their lands are exempt and free to a large extent at least.

What has ruined the farm lands in New England and the southern states east of the Mississippi and is depreciating farm lands almost everywhere outside of the newer lands of the west has not been their constant tillage and repeated croppings for the last century, but the constant washing away of the soil by the annual rains and floods. The soil of our American farms is being constantly washed out and denuded by erosion. It is being carried from the fields into the streams and by the streams into the rivers and by the rivers is carried into the sea. Outside of the valley lands and farms there is hardly a farm in the United States east of the Mississippi river but what loses a part of its value for productive purposes with every rain. W. J. McKee, one of our United States geologists, estimated that in some of the states east of the Mississippi the annual loss in real estate from the washing away of the soil by rains and floods had in the last quarter of a century equaled the annual products of the soil for the same time.

Fletcher in his new work on soils says that "We have thousands of square miles of lands in the United States that are rapidly approaching desolation by erosion, over a large area the work of destruction has gone so far as to make it impracticable to save the land for cropping."

My travels and studies have led me to believe that this factor of the great annual loss of the soils from the farm lands of the country will tend to make the farm lands least subject to such losses the most valuable farm lands in the country, when this factor becomes fully realized.

The lands of western Iowa are covered by a water-borne deposit of from twenty-five to two hundred feet in thickness. They are free from boulders and almost free from gravel, sand, pebbles or clay. They are of the same consistency from the top to the bottom, possessed of a tenacity which prevents serious washing or erosion, and they absorb the water instead of being carried away with it. They will stand the erosion of thousands of years as they have on the Rhine and in China and still remain rich in all the elements of fertility and chemical plant food. A man who buys a farm in western Iowa covered with its deep, thick covering of "loess" can do so with the assurance that after one thousand years of rain and frost and floods have done their best or worst to rob it of its soil and carry it away, there will still remain a farm as rich and as productive as when it was first devoted to the raising of crops by the pioneer who first turned over the prairie sod upon its surface. There is no other investment I know of on earth which possesses an equal assurance that it will be as good in one thousand years as now, as a western Iowa farm, and I base that judgment largely on the fact that these western Iowa lands are covered so deeply by their covering of soil that they will endure the constant washing and erosion of centuries and still remain fertile as similar lands in China and on the Rhine have done.

Another thing, I, too, am of the opinion, advocated by Tama Jim Wilson, secretary of agriculture, that corn is to be the king of all the American crops. These western Iowa lands are the best corn lands on earth. Corn not only means meat and milk and butter, but it has been found to furnish more useful products than any other article of plant growth. It is liable to furnish the fuel, light and power of the future. The time will come when it will be safe to let the Iowa farmer turn his corn into alcohol without the fear that he will drink the product and start a riot. He will find a better use for it. He will light and heat his house with it, and, putting it into a motor, will turn it into force and power that will propel all his farm machinery, do his plowing and cultivating, haul his produce to market and propel his carriage when he takes his family and goes to town. I am an optimist on Iowa corn lands and I believe the reasons for my faith are founded upon a rock. Take my advice and get all the western Iowa corn lands you can, and as the old woman said, "Git a plenty while you are a gittin."     

Your friend,

ORLANDO H. MANNING,

161 Madison Avenue,

New York City.

 [Note—A lengthy and most interesting treatise on the geological structure and history of Carroll county and its resulting soil-natures and values will be found in Volume IX, Chapter III, of the "Iowa Geological Survey."]

 

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