Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lines on the Hills

It’s been a little over one month since I posted the kid’s question about horizontal lines on the rolling hills surrounding Dave’s Home. In my opinion this question is still unresolved, and interestingly the topic is dominating recent ShoutBox posts.  (Click HERE to view the first post on this topic.)

My dad, Tioga-George, seems to believe that these lines are created by livestock. He sent me THIS LINK a few weeks ago. Quite a few other readers believe this, also. I am skeptical, though, because most of the lines are just too perfectly spaced and I don’t ever see the animals following one another in a single file.  Most of the time they are spread out grazing all over the place.

The other contending answer relates these lines with erosion. One of my colleagues at work believes this, too. He claims that certain soils have compression qualities that, when on a hillside subject to gravity and moisture, cause a “slumping” effect based on the slope’s angle of repose. If I understand him correctly, he basically thinks that these lines are caused by mini landslides. I am skeptical of this, also, because it seems to me that if this were the case then the spacing between these lines would change depending upon the steepness of the slope. However, from what I can see the spacing between these lines remains fairly constant all over a given hill.

Stray answers suggest these lines are the result of “contour farming” many years ago and since abandoned, or that they were caused by retreating glaciers, or by the ocean way back when this part of the country was under the sea.

Frustrated by the lack of a definitive answer, about a week ago I wrote three e-mails to folks that I hoped could shed a little light on our mysterious lines. Two e-mails went to the cities nearest these hills. The third went to the company that I believe owns the land itself. Unfortunately none have responded. I will let you know if and when they do.

The one thing I haven’t done is actually walk on these slopes. When the weather was accommodating (which it hasn’t been lately) I would look for openings in the barbed wire fences while driving by. None were apparent. One time I stopped along the side of the road for a closer look. The lines were definitely terraces in the land. The one new thing I noticed was that they are not all parallel. Some lines appear to merge with the one above or below it.