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The North Central Plains
Transcript of The North Central Plains
Common trees in the wooded areas include post oaks, blackjack oaks, hickories, pecans, and elms. Today the Cross Timbers are mostly agricultural. Peanuts, fruit, and vegetables are the main crops grown here. Most peanut farmers in the region grow Spanish peanuts, which can better tolerate dry spells than other varieties. Dairying and raising livestock are other important agricultural activities.
The Grand Prairie
Limestone lies under the soil of the Grand Prairie, causing rain to soak through quickly. Because the soil fails to hold moisture for very long, trees are scarce throughout much of this area. Grasses and shrubs cover much of the terrain here, while trees are usually found along the banks of numerous streams.
The Rolling Plains
Lying west of the Cross Timbers, the Rolling Plains is the largest geographic section within the North Central Plains region. It is sometimes called the Lower Plains because of the higher Great Plains to the west. The Rolling Plains stretch for about 300 miles from the northernmost to the southernmost point, this geographic section is just under 200 miles across.
The North Central Plains
A Ranching and Farming Region
The North Central Plains actually start in Canada and extend across the midsection of the United States before ending in Texas. The Balcones Escarpment and the Caprock Escarpment separate the region from the rest of Texas.
The North Central Plains are higher in elevation than are the Coastal Plains. In many places, rivers making their way to the Gulf of Mexico have carved the North Central Plains into hills and valleys.
Relatively far from the Gulf of Mexico with its moderating winds, the North Central Plains have a continental climate that is colder in winter and hotter in summer than the lands near the Gulf. Much of the land is covered with grasses and brush instead of trees. Many of the large cattle ranches of the state are located here. In addition, because the region still receives good rainfall, flatter parts are used for farming crops.
The small population of the North Central Plains reflects the mainly rural, agricultural nature of the area. The largest city, Fort Worth, began as a marketing center for cattle raised in the region. Today Fort Worth is a manufacturing center for airplanes, computers, and clothing. Other cities in the region include Abilene and San Angelo, which are marketing centers for ranch products such as wool.
The North Central Plains may be divided into three geographic subsections. They are the Cross Timbers, The Grand Prairie, and the Rolling Hills.
The Cross Timbers area contains several important cities. Arlington, located in the East Cross Timbers, is a leader in manufacturing, recreation, and tourism. Students are attracted to the city of Denton, also in the East Cross Timbers, because the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University are located here. Brownwood, located in the West Cross Timbers, is an important center of regional trade and distribution.
Agriculture is the most important economic activity in the Grand Prairie. Cattle are numerous and crops grown here include wheat, peanuts, corn, sorghum, and cotton.
Most towns in the Grand Prairie are rather small, but this section does have one of the state’s largest cities, Fort Worth. Fort Worth and Dallas are the main cities of a 20-county area known as the Metroplex. The Metroplex is a major manufacturing and trade center. Whereas Dallas is a trade center that serves people mainly in the cities, Fort Worth likes to refer to itself as “the place where the west begins.” Grain elevators, feed mills, and many other businesses serve the agricultural needs of rural people living farther west. Fort Worth is also an important financial hub. In addition, large-scale aircraft manufacturing brings in employees from across the state.
Two smaller communities located in the southern part of the Grand Prairie are Killeen and Copperas Cove. Both are located close to Fort Hood, one of the nation’s largest military installations. They draw economic support from the arm personnel and others who are employed at Fort Hood.
In most of the Rolling Plains, the landscape is slightly rolling. In some places, however, there are distinct hills, mesas, and buttes, or small flat-topped hills.
Large cattle ranches sprawl over many parts of the Rolling Plains. Sheep and goats graze in the drier western parts of the section. They can survive on the sparse vegetation better than cattle can. In the wetter area to the east, field crops of various kinds are grown. These include cotton, sorghum, and wheat. Specialty crops, including pecans and peaches, are also grown. Texas is one of the nation’s leading producers of these two crops.
Only a few settlements dot the Rolling Plains. One of the larger communities is Wichita Falls, a city in the northeastern part of the section. Armed Forces personnel work at the large United States Air Force base, and students move here to attend Midwestern State University. Distribution and marketing are important activities in Wichita Falls. Because Wichita Falls is located near the Texas-Oklahoma border, the city serves the people of both states.
Abilene, in the south-central part of the Rolling Plains, is an important oil services and marketing center. It is home to three church-related institutions of higher learning: Abilene Christian University, Hardin-Simmons University, and McMurry University. San Angelo, in the extreme southwestern part of the region, is a major center for agribusiness (large-scale commercial farming) and the home of Angelo State University. It is also the largest wool-producing market in the United States.