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the Mississippi to the Avoyelles, (a distance of sixty miles,) is intersected by channels, which, receiving the surplus of the waters of both rivers, inundate the whole surface, to the depth of several feet, from the month of February to June, during which period boats may navigate in every direction, except where their passage is intercepted by trees. Between the Avoyelles and the rapids, (a distance of forty miles,) most of the country, on each side, is inundated during the wet season. From the rapids to Natchitoches* (HO miles,) the borders of the river, from 300 to 400 yards in breadth, are elevated above the highest swell, and are remarkably fertile. Beyond this margin are swamps and lakes, from one to two miles in breadth, which extend to the high lands. Between Red river and the Opelousas country, there is a tract of land, of about forty miles square, watered by the Bayou Robert* and Bayou aux Boeufs, which is of an excellent quality, well wooded and watered, and favourable to health. Near the borders of Lake Bistineau the land rises into hills, from 100 to 200 feet of elevation, covered with trees, of which the principal are pine and oak. The valley of the Washita, 550 miles in length, and from seventy to eighty in breadth, contains a surface of more than 25,000 square miles, or 16,000,000 of acres, of rich arable land, of which the finest portion lies on the Bayous Siard, Barthelemi, and the Washita. On the banks of this last stream, below the mouth of Boeuf river,
* The word Bayou is originally Spanish, and signifies a small bay; but in Louisiana it is used to signify a creek, or small liver. VOL. II. I i
the surface is elevated forty or fifty feet above the waters, to some distance, after which it sinks into the overflown lands of the Tensaw river, forming an isolated hill, five miles in width, known by the name of Sicily Island. The soil is a black loam, extremely fertile, and in some parts bordered with pine. On the margin of the Macon and Tensaw rivers, there are considerable tracts of land, sufficiently elevated to admit of culture. The banks of Black river are very fertile, but the margin, which is susceptible of cultivation, is but narrow, and is in several parts liable to be flooded. The Peninsula, formed by Black and Red rivers, is intersected by numerous water courses, which are full during the swell of the Mississippi. The soil, though covered with a thick forest, is said to be fertile. It is calculated, that nearly one-fifth of the surface of this state consists of water, morasses, and tracts of sandy soil, called Pine Barrens. Climate.—The climate of this country varies in different parts. From the sea to Point Coupee it seldom snows, nor does it ever freeze, except in the months of December and January, and when the wind is from the north or north-west. It appears to be well ascertained, that there is here less heat and more moisture than in similar latitudes on the eastern continent, and the climate is generally very mild. In winter the thermometer seldom falls more than two degrees below the freezing point. At Natchez, the greatest degree of cold, observed by Mr Ellicot, was 17°. In the month of December 1800, it sunk to 12° near New Orleans, and snow fell for the first time during twenty years. In January 1811 the thermometer varied from 78° to 10° below the freezing point, in the course of some days, and the river Mississippi was completely frozen over; but this is cited as a remarkable phenomenon. In winter the thermometer fluctuates between 45° and 56°. Near the hot springs, on the Washita river, in latitude 34° 31', Messrs Hunter and Dunbar saw the mercury sink to 9°, on the 30th December 1804, and to 16°, on the 2d of January following. The difference of temperature between the river and air was as follows: llth January, temperature of the air, 11°, of the river, 89°. 12th January, of the air, 20°, of the river 40°. This difference of temperature created a thick vapour over the surface of the water. At Natchitoches, situated in latitude 31° 36', and 93° 20' of west longitude from London, snow seldom falls; but a slight frost sometimes takes place in the months of April and September, which does great injury to the cotton and tender plants. In Feliciana, formerly West Florida, the winter commences in the last days of November, and there is often frost in the evenings and mornings, the thermometer ranging between 65° and 70°. During the summer months it often rises above 90°, and sometimes as high as 96°. The heat throughout the state seldom, however, exceeds 90°, and the mean temperature of summer has been calculated at 25" of Reaumur's scale. In the parallel of 31°, the mean temperature •f spring water is 65°, while in Pennsylvania it is
51°, giving a difference of 14". * According to the meteorological observations of Mr Dunbar, in the summer of 1800, the thermometer, in north latitude, 31° 28', and longitude 91° S3' west of Greenwich, four miles east of the river Mississippi, rose often to 90* and 97°, and under the shade of trees to 91°. This gentleman has furnished a table of the greatest and least degree of heat, for every month of different years, t We copy that of 1802. January, 79° greatest, 27° least temperature. February, 78'—24°. March, 82°—35°. April, 88°—52°. May, 92^°—47°. June, 93°—62°. July, 93°—62°. August, 92°—6l°. September, 98"—4'5°. October, 90°—32°. November, 80°—28°. December, 70°—26". In July there are heavy rains and thunder, and the heat is then at its maximum; but it continues without much diminution till the close of September, the thermometer ranging between 80* and 87°, and sometimes rising above 90°. The most unhealthy months are August and September, when the miasma exhaled from decaying animal and vegetable matters are most abundant, and most injurious to the human frame. At this season bilious disorders prevail, especially in new settlements. Amore familiar idea of the climate of this country may be derived from the
* See Ellicot's Journal. According to Mr Darby, the mean temperature of spring water is 52*, See his Geographical Description, &c. p. 233.
+ See No. 30 of the 6th volume of the Philosophical Transactions of Philadelphia.
developement of its vegetable productions. About the 1st of February peach and plum trees, peas, and strawberries, are in blossom. About the 1st of March, the trees generally are in leaf, or in blossom. Peas are ripe towards the middle of June, and the earlier fruit before the close of July. Spring regularly commences with southern breezes, the warmth of which is so favourable to vegetation, that it is here more advanced in April than in May, in the northern states. Hurricanes were experienced in 1780 and 1794, in the month of August. The wind blew with violence during twelve hours, and so retarded the current of the Mississippi, that it overflowed its banks, and inundated the country from two to ten feet, as high as the English turn. These storms were accompanied with thunder, and with hailstones of uncommon size. * In 1802 the engineer who directed the works of Fort Plaquemines, situated at the distance of twelve or thirteen leagues from the sea, was drowned in his cabin, by a sudden rising of the waters. The workmen and garrison found refuge in the most elevated part of the fort, where there was from two to three feet water. Rivers of Louisiana:
* Dupratz states, that some which fell in 1737 were as large as a hen's egg.