November 20, 2017

Man-Induced Soil Erosion on the Southern Piedmont

Man-Induced Soil Erosion on the Southern Piedmont: 1700-1970 (Enhanced 2nd Edition)
by Stanley W. Trimble
80 pages, illustrated, 8.5 x 11 softbound

Available with online access


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Entire book (9.5 mb pdf)*




Front Matter


Foreword by Andrew Goudie*

Preface to the Second Edition by Stanley W. Trimble*


Chapter I. Introduction*

Chapter II. The Limited Extent of Erosion on the Piedmont at the Time of European Settlement*

Chapter III. The Settlement of the Piedmont by Europeans and Associated Increasing Erosive Land Use, 1700–1860*

Chapter IV. The Period of Greatest Erosive Land Use, 1860–1920*

Chapter V. The Decrease of Erosive Land use from 1920 to the Present*


Chapter VI. Summary, Conclusions, and Prospects*




Appendix A. Discussion of Erosive Land Use Data by Years

Appendix B. Changes in Soil Conservation Techniques, 1700–1967

Appendix C. The Importance of Abandoned Land to Erosive Land Use

Appendix D. The Relation of Slavery and Plantation Agriculture to Erosive Land Use

Appendix E. The Relation of Tenancy to Erosive Land Use

Appendix F. Determination of CountyAreas, 1840–1920




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Critical Acclaim


Stan Trimble’s study of soil loss and agricultural practice across the Southern Piedmont remains the gold standard as a fusion of theoretical and empirical work in American environmental historical geography. In sheer territorial extent, chronological sweep, evidentiary depth, and methodological ingenuity it is a classic yet to be superseded. Its blend of rigorous conceptualization, diverse quantitative and qualitative data, bold assumptions, and forthright conclusions stand as a model of focused, incremental investigation, thorough-going cartographic analysis, interdisciplinary significance, and policy relevance. As reflected in numerous reprintings and now this new edition, it is a study that after all these years continues to merit a close reading.

Michael Conzen

University of Chicago


Stanley Trimble in 1974 used historical records and manuscript sources in an effective combination with field-based geomorphological and soils methods. The result was an insightful case study of land use, soil erosion, and landscape repercussions on the Southern Piedmont since the early 1700s. This introduced clarity as to cause and effect, and dispelled some entrenched “accepted truths,” drawing attention to the true complexity of slope and valley change. Trimble’s monograph was sufficiently unique to serve as a model that has become a classic.

Karl W. Butzer

University of Texas


Man-Induced Soil Erosion on the Southern Piedmont for many years in my geomorphology classes to show how social data such as that contained in Census reports can be used to infer rates of geomorphic processes. I bought up the last remaining copies of the second printing a number of years ago and am happy to learn that students will now once again have easy access to this insightful piece of work.

Peter K. Haff



It is fitting that Trimble’s 1974 study, based on the bedrock of measurement and comprehensiveness, should be republished at a time when ill-informed opinion often drives policy. In 2000, Trimble co-authored a paper in Science that states that “no problem of resource or environmental management can be rationally addressed until its true space and time dimensions are known.” It is astonishing that this truism should need restating, and fortunate that we have Trimble to show how it should be done.

Claudio Vita-Finzi

University College London


The re-issue of this work is timely as it shows that not all human action is ultimately detrimental to the environment. The rehabilitation of the old Southern cotton and tobacco lands is an unsung success story, that Trimble has told well.

Michael Williams

Oxford University


A classic.

Dan Yaalon, Hebrew University


About the Author

Stanley W. Trimble is a professor in the Department of Geography at UCLA. His interests include historical geography of the environment and especially human impacts on hydrology including soil erosion, stream and valley sedimentation, and stream flow and channel changes.


In 1963, Trimble received his BS in chemistry from the University of North Alabama. Taking a US Army ROTC commission, he spent two years as an intelligence research officer and served with the 101st Airborne Division (1964–1965). After a year teaching in Europe, he earned MA (1970) and PhD (1973) degrees in geography at the University of Georgia.


Dr. Trimble was a research hydrologist with the US Geological Survey from 1973 to 1984 and has been a visiting professor at the Universities of Chicago, Vienna, Oxford, Durham, and University College London.


Dr. Trimble’s more than 100 publications are diverse, including such journals as Science, Academic Medicine, Regulation, and Journal of Historical Geography. He is co-author of Environmental Hydrology (CRC Press 2004) and has served as an editor of Catena (1996–2006) and editor of the Dekker Encyclopedia of Water Science (2003–2007).


He is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Melvin G. Marcus Distinguished Career Award for his contributions to geomorphology and a research Fulbright to the United Kingdom. Trimble served on the National Research Council Committee on Watershed Management (1996–1999) and the Committee on the Mississippi River and the Clean Water Act (2005–2007).


Dr. Trimble also owns and manages a 200-acre farm in Tennessee.


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