Rhone, France - Encyclopedia

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RHONE, a department of south-eastern France, formed in 1 793 from the eastern portion of the department of Rhone-etLoire, and comprising the old districts of Beaujolais, Lyonnais, Franc-Lyonnais, Forez and a small portion of Dauphine. Pop.

(1906) 858,907. Area, 1104 sq m. Rhone is bounded N. by the department of Saone-et-Loire, E. by Ain and Isere and S. and W. by Loire. The Saone and the Rhone 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 Saone and its tributary the Azergues, and by the Gier. The mountains which cover the surface of the department constitute the watershed between the Rhone and the Loire, and from north to south form four successive groups - the Beaujolais Mountains, the highest peak of which is 3320 ft.; the Tarare group; the Lyonnais Mountains (nearly 3000 ft.); and Mont Pilat, the highest peak of which belongs to the department of Loire. The lowest point of the department (460 ft. above sealevel) is at the egress of the Rhone. The meteorological conditions vary greatly with the elevation and exposure. Snow sometimes lies in the mountains from November to April, while at Lyons and in the valleys the mean temperature in winter is 36° F. 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.

Good agricultural land is found in the valleys of the Saone and Rhone, but for the most part the soil is stony and only moderately fertile. Wheat, oats, rye and potatoes are extensively cultivated, but their importance is less than that of the vine, the hills of the Beaujolais on the right bank of the Saone producing excellent wines. Fruit trees, such as peaches, apricots, walnuts and chestnuts, grow well, but the wood in general is little more than copse and brushwood. Good pasture is found in the valleys of the Azergues and its affluents. Mines of iron-pyrites and coal and quarries of freestone are worked. The production of silk fabrics, the chief branch of manufacture, that of chemicals and machinery, together with most of the other industries of the department, are concentrated in Lyons (q.v.) and its vicinity. Tarare is a centre for the manufacture of muslin and embroidery. Oullins has large railway workshops belonging to the Paris-Lyon-Mediterranee railway, and there are important glass works at Givors. Cottonspinning and weaving are carried on in several localities. The products of its manufactures, together with wine and brandy, form the bulk of the exports of the department; its imports comprise chiefly the raw material for its industries. It is served by the Paris-Lyon railway. The Rhone and the Saone and in the extreme south the canal of Givors are its navigable waterways. Lyons the capital is the seat of an archbishop and of a court of appeal and centre of an educational division (academie). The department is divided amongst the districts of the VII., VIII., XII., XIII. and XIV. army corps. There are two arrondissements (Lyons and Villefranche) subdivided into 29 cantons and 269 communes. The principal places besides Lyons are Givors, Tarare and Villefranche, which receive separate treatment.

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