Notes from a Lymington bungalow? What is this contraption doing here?
I am hoping to draw your attention to the role of these Notes as a place to log the research snippets and discoveries left over from my America 18/70 blog. These nuggets of interest will help provide a context or background to the destinations.
The Great Black Swamp is no longer a feature of the Ohio landscape. But when European settlers first reached the western shores of Lake Erie, they encountered a forested wetland that covered nearly 4,800 square miles in Ohio and Indiana, and the immigrant farmers hated it.
‘It was in their view a pestilential menace and barrier to prosperity and as soon as possible they began the business of draining it.’
Responding to this business imperative, a typical gung-ho American inventor, James Hill came up with the perfect solution; the Buckeye Steam Traction Ditcher, an excavation contraption that could dig a ditch faster than a team of 15 men working by hand. When drained, the Great Black Swamp became some of the most productive farmland in the US. You can find out more by visiting the US Nature Conservancy here
This may not be my only encounter with the legacy of the drained Great Black Swamp. Intensive chemical farming practices are cited as responsible for blue-green algae infestations in a number of major waterways – including the Mississippi – See you later, alligator!