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Past and Present of Livingston County
Volume 1. History
by Major A. J. Roof. 1913
This section, referring to the climatological conditions of Livingston county, embraces practically all that portion of north Missouri north of the Missouri river. Physiographically it is divided into two divisions, which are known as the northeastern plain and northwestern plain or plateau; the dividing line begins in Lafayette county, whence it runs northward through Ray, Livingston, Sullivan and Putnam counties.
This region embraces an area of about twenty-three thousand four hundred square miles, and the population is something over one million.
The general topography is of the gently undulating prairie type and rolling hills, the former predominating in the eastern part, while the western part is more rugged and hilly. The elevations range from four hundred and fifty feet in the eastern part to over one thousand two hundred feet in the western part of the state. The rise is not uniform, but takes place in a series of steps which are successively higher to the westward. This region, like the southern half of the state, has numerous valleys cut by the rivers that drain it. Except for belts of country a few miles wide along the edges of the steps, the valleys are not deep or narrow. In fact, nowhere in this region are the valleys so narrow and deep as those in the Ozark region. The valleys of the larger streams are often several miles wide, with flat meadow-like bottoms.
This region is drained by many streams. There are a number of small but swiftly flowing streams, namely, the Fox, Wyaconda, Fabius and Salt, with their numerous smaller tributaries, that have a southeasterly course and empty into the Mississippi river. The Chariton and Grand rivers are larger streams, having numerous tributaries, and draining most of northern Missouri. The Chariton river rises in Iowa, flows southerly through Missouri by way of Putnam, Adair, Macon and Chariton counties, and enters the Missouri about one hundred and seventy-five miles above its mouth. The Grand river also has its beginning in Iowa, but enters Missouri farther west, by way of Worth county, whence it flows southeasterly, emptying into Missouri only about twenty miles above the Chariton's mouth. The streams of this region may become serviceable for numerous mill sites in the future, In time of flood they carry off from their respective watersheds great volumes of water and empty it into the Mississippi and Missouri, thereby becoming, during periods of heavy rainfall, no small factors in causing those mighty streams to become raging, damaging torrents. The soil along these tributaries is a rich alluvial - deposits from overflows which occur, on an average, semi-annually, and while the lands are enriched, there is at times serious damage to property.
Along most of these streams forests of different varieties of oak, elm, maple and walnut abound. Under the ground bituminous coal of fine quality, and in almost inexhaustible quantities, exists; coal mining has already become a large industry in many counties. The soils of the entire region are fertile, and it is a profitable farming district.
It has been said that the blue grass of this region has made northern Missouri as famous as Kentucky. Stock raising and the creamery business are carried on extensively, while fruit raising is not the least of this region's immense possibilities.
The annual mean temperature for the eastern division is about 53.6 degrees, while for the western division it is 51.6 degrees, The summer means are practically the same, being 75.5 degrees for the former and 74.7 degrees for the latter; during the winter the western part is apparently 2.5 degrees colder than the eastern half, or what is called the northeastern plain. What has already been said in the preceding two sections relative to maximum and minimum temperature applies also to this section, that is, summer maxima usually ranges between 90 degrees and 95 degrees, while the winter minima may be expected to reach zero or 20degrees or more below zero yearly.
The average date of the last killing frost in spring over the northeastern plain is April 21, and the first in autumn is October 14, or an open season of one hundred and seventy-six days; for the northwestern plain, the dates are April 23, and October 11,respectively, or an open season of one hundred and seventy-one days.
The average rainfall for the entire section, covering a period of twenty years, is 38.50 inches; the precipitation is about two inches greater in the eastern than in the western part. The annual snowfall ranges from twenty-five to thirty inches.
The average mean monthly precipitation for the past decade, taken for Chillicothe, is as follows: January, 2.13; February, 2.25; March, 2.81; April, 4.26; May, 5.77; June, 6.39; July, 4.63; August, 4.17; September, 5.62; October, 3.46; November, 2.09; December, 1.67. Total 45.25.
The average date of the last killing frost in the spring and the first in autumn, including the Grand river valley for a period of from twelve to eighteen years, is here given as recorded: Chillicothe, April 22 and October 12; Trenton, April 20 and October 9; Gallatin, April 17 and October 19; Bethany, April 26 and October 8; Grant City, April 26 and October 13; Princeton, April 24 and October 9. The latest spring killing frost in the territory named, occurred in Livingston and Grundy counties on May 9, while the earliest in the fall occurred at Trenton, Bethany and Princeton in Septem ber. This average is taken from the years 1892 to 1912.
The highest average temperature for the past decade in Livingston county for January was 31; February, 66; March, 89; April, 90; May, 90; June, 103; July, 111; August, 103; September, 99; October, 98; November, 78; December, 67. Total average, 111.
The lowest average temperatures were January, 18; February, 27; March, 0; April, 10; May, 22; June, 40; July, 50; August, 48; September, 29; October, 23; November, 0; December, 21. Total average, 27.
The seasonal distribution of precipitation is especially favorable for the agriculturist, being heaviest in spring and summer and lightest in autumn; this is also true of all of Missouri.
The average dates of the last killing frost in spring and the first in autumn for the past decade are April 18 and October respectively, and for the lowlands or prairie April 20, and October 12 for the plateau.
The summer maximum temperatures for the same period usually rose to 95 degrees and occasionally exceed 100 degrees. Zero temperatures are quite common in winter, although there are occasional winters where the temperature scarely reaches zero.
The warmest summer in the past fifty years or more was that of 1901, which was also one of the most severe droughts. During that summer the maximum temperatures ranged from 100 degrees to 111 degrees for a period of thirty days or more. The coldest winters were perhaps those of 1899 and 1905, when minimum temperatures from 20 degrees to 30 degrees below zero were experienced.