1902 Encyclopedia > Rhone (Department), France

Rhone (Department), France

RHONE, a department of south-eastern France, deriv-ing its name from the great river on which Lyons, its chief town, is situated, was formed in 1793 from the eastern por-tion of the department Rhône-et-Loire, comprising parts of Lyonnais and Beaujolais. It is bounded on the N. by Saône-et-Loire, on the E. by Ain and by Isère, on the S. and W. by Loire, and lies between 45° 27' and 46° 18' N. lat. and 4° 15' and 4° 53' E. long. The Saône and the Rhone, each for a distance of 26 miles, form its natural boundary on the east. The department belongs almost entirely to the basin of the Rhone, to which it sends its waters by the Saône and its tributary the Azergues, and by the Gier. The watershed between the Rhone and the Loire rises to the west of the department, and from north to south forms four successive groups—the Beaujolais Mountains, the highest peak of which is 3320 feet; the Tarafe group ; the Lyonnais Mountains (nearly 3000 feet) ; and Mont Pilat, the highest peak of which belongs to the department of Loire. The lowest point of the department, where it is left by the Rhone, is 460 feet above the level of the sea. The meteorological conditions vary greatly with the elevation and exposure. Snow sometimes lies in the mountains from November to April, whilst at Lyons and in the valleys the mean temperature in winter is 36° Fahr., and in summer 70°, the annual mean being 53°. The average rainfall is somewhat higher than is general over France owing to the amount of the precipitation on the hilly region.

Of a total area of 689,545 acres, 286,000 are arable, 120,000 are pasture meadow laud, 79,000 under vines, 79,000 wood, and 66,000 moorland. From 1874 to 1883 the average annual harvests yielded 253,869 quarters of wheat, 7509 of meslin, 114,468 of rye, 3035 of barley, and 98,803 of oats. In 1883 there were pro-duced 5,390,000 bushels of potatoes, 106,650 bushels of buck-wheat, 41,320 tons of beetroot, 12 of hemp seed, and 83 of hemp. Between 1874 and 1883 the average annual-yield of the vines was 16,533,956 gallons of wine; in 1883 it was "only 11,918,084. In 1881 the live stock numbered 12,350 horses, 2000 asses, 600 mules, 9000 oxen or bulls, 65,000 cows, 12,500 calves, 49,000 sheep (pro-ducing 110 tons of wool), 16,000 pigs, 36,000 goats, 8000 bee-hives (producing 48 tons of honey and 16 tons of wax) ; 78 cwts. of cocoons were produced in 1882, while in 1883 there were only 47 cwts. The soil of the department is for the most part stony and only moderately fertile. Fruit trees, such as peaches, apricots, walnuts, and chestnuts, grow well, but the wood in general is little more than copse and brushwood. The wealth of the department is mainly derived from its industries. Its transactions with the Bank of France at Lyons in 1882 amounted to £30,398,960—a figure only exceeded by the departments Seine and Nord. The popula-tion is principally engaged in the manufacture of chemicals, of machinery, and of silk. In 1881 324 factories, with 18,500 spindles, 700 power-looms, and 43,000 hand-looms, were employed in the spinning and weaving of silk; 58 works, with 35,800 hack-ling and reeling machines, in the preparation of the raw material ; 7 works, with 450 spindles, 230 power-looms, and 1250 hand-looms, in the manufacture of mixed goods, and 800 looms in the manufacture of lace ; 80 dyeworks employ 4000 workmen. In 1879 it was calculated that the turnover for silk articles amounted to £15,000,000 (£5,000,000 for labour and £10,000,000 for the raw material). LYONS (q.v.) is the centre for the silk manufacture and Tarare for that of muslins, velvets, plush, calicoes, and prints, there being 26 factories, with 33,000 spindles, 540 power-looms, 4800 hand-looms ; 2000 workmen are also employed in the manufacture of counterpanes. In 1882 88,115 tons of iron were produced. The chief workshops for repairing the locomotives of the Paris, Lyons, and Mediterranean line are in this department. There are also foundries of copper, bronze, and bell-metal, as also gold, silver, and steel wire works. The manufacture of gold and silver plate and jewellery has an annual turnover of £320,000, that of edible pastes amounts to £480,000, and that of paper to £54,000. The manufacture of wall papers is only second to that of Paris. In addition there are 15 chemical works. 8 glass works employing 1000 workmen with a turnover of £190,000 in 1879, 9 candle works (£268,800), 12 soap works (£102,200), and 700 mills. In 1881 there were in the department 1448 industrial establishments, employing 1558 steam engines with an aggregate horse power of 13,077. Coal and anthracite are found (36,169 tons in 1882), as well as argentiferous lead, manganese, and copper pyrites ; there are also large stone quarries. The cold mineral spring of Charbonnière, containing bicarbonates, iron, and sulphur, is 19 miles west of Lyons. The means of communication include 76 miles of navigable river, 5 of canal (the canal of Givors), 141 miles of Government road, 3685 miles of other roads, and 165 miles of railway connecting, Lyons with Paris, with Roanne by Tarare, with Montbrison, St Etienne, Nîmes, Marseilles, Grenoble, Chambéry, Geneva, Bourg, and Trévoux, Beaujeu with Belleville (on the Lyons and Mâcon line), and Thizy with Cours (two manufacturing towns in the neighbour-uood of Tarare on the line from Lyons to Roanne). The popula-tion, which owing to the development of industries has doubled since 1801, was 741,470 in 1881—266 per square kilometre, the average in France being 71. There are two arrondissements. Lyons and Villefranche, 29 cantons, and 264 communes. Rhône belongs to the diocese of Lyons, is under the jurisdiction of the superior court of Lyons, and is divided between the corps d'armée of Clermont and of Grenoble. The chief towns are LYONS (q.v.); Tarare (13,352); Villeurbane (11,176); Caluire-et-Cuire (9740) and Oullins (7536), suburbs of Lyons; Givors (11,470), a stirring town on the Rhone, at the junction of the canal by which coal is brought from St Etienne to the Rhone, with glass works, blast furnaces, foundries, brick and tile works, and potteries ; Amplepius (7118) ; and Cours (6929).

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