DEFORESTATION IN NORTH AMERICA
The land area of the United States and Canada is just over 4.8 billion acres. When large numbers of Europeans began to arrive in the eighteenth century, almost one-third of that area was covered with old-growth forests. In the eastern half of the continent, nearly 90 percent of the land was thick with forests of elm, ash, beech, maple, oak, and hickory. By the end of the nineteenth century, after several decades of intensive deforestation, only half of the original forests remained.
During the first two centuries of European colonization, settlement was concentrated along the East Coast, having almost no effect on the vast forests covering the continent. Then, in the first half of the nineteenth century, agriculture expanded and settlers began to move westward in search of land for new farms. Land for agriculture came almost exclusively from clearing forests. The demand for farmland and timber continued to soar, and by 1850, more than 100 million acres of old-growth forest had been cut or burned off in the Northeast, the Southeast, the Great Lakes region, and along the St. Lawrence River.
Along with agriculture, industrialization was a major cause of deforestation. The Industrial Revolution was faded by North America’s abundance of wood, as iron makers relied on charcoal, or charred wood, to fire their furnaces. Hardwoods such as oak produced the best charcoal, which charcoal burners made by slowly burning logs in kilns until they were reduced to concentrated carbon. It took eight tons of wood to make two tons of charcoal to smelt one ton of iron. Thus, the toll on the forests was high, as countless acres were cut to feed the furnaces of the iron industry.
The transportation technology of the Industrial Revolution contributed greatly to deforestation. The river steamboats that came into operation after 1830 had a voracious appetite for wood. To keep their wheels turning, steamboats typically took on fuel twice a day. The wood was supplied by thousands of “wood hawks” along the banks of the Ohio and Mississippi with stacks of cut firewood. Annual consumption of wood on riverboats continued to increase until 1865. Consequently* river valleys that had the heaviest traffic were stripped of their forests.
After 1860, immigration and westward expansion surged, and railroads swept over the continent. Clean-burning hardwood was the preferred fuel of the “iron horses,” which required the cutting of 215,000 acres of woodland to stay in operation for one year. Not only did wood fuel the steam engines, but enormous amounts of oak and locust also went into the manufacture of railcars, ties, fencing, bridges, and telegraph poles. Railroads in the United States and Canada stretched from coast to coast by ! 885, and each additional mile of railroad meant at least two more miles of fencing and 2,500 ties.
Other major consumers of forest products included ordinary homeowners. More than four out of five of the houses constructed in the early nineteenth century—from log cabins to clapboard cottages—were built mainly of wood and roofed with wooden shingles. All were filled with wooden furniture. Two-thirds of all households in North America were heated by open, wood-burning fireplaces, and it took between 10 and 20 acres of forest to keep a single fireplace burning for one year.
Throughout the century, the timber industry continued to supply the single most valuable raw material for a rapidly expanding population. Between 1840 and 1860, the annual production of lumber rose from 1.6 million to 8 billion board feet. This increase was made possible by the widespread application of steam power. Wood-fueled steam engines powered the sawmills, moved and barked the logs, and finished the boards. Railroad Lines were now built right into the forests so that felled logs could be shipped directly to market. These innovations had their greatest impact in the Great Lakes region. By 1890 the technology of the timber industry had triumphed over the natural abundance of the forests, and woodlands that had once seemed endless were now depleted.
14. What point does the author make about deforestation in North America?
(A) It occurred mostly within a single century.
(B) It changed how people thought about trees.
(C) It provided jobs in several related industries.
(D) It caused an economic crisis in two countries.
15. According to the passage, all of the following contributed to deforestation EXCEPT
(A) the expansion of agriculture
(B) an increase in forest fires
(C) the use of charcoal as a fuel
(D) steamboat transportation
16. The word they in paragraph 3 refers to
17. Why does the author use the word toll in discussing the iron industry in paragraph 3?
(A) To show that the process of smelting iron was expensive
(B) To illustrate the impact of forest fires on the iron industry
(C) To point out that the iron industry had to pay high taxes
(D) To emphasize that large areas of woodland were eliminated
18. The word voracious in paragraph 4 is closest in meaning to
19. The phrase “wood hawks” in paragraph 4 describes
(A) a type of riverboat
(B) a species of tree
(C) people who sold wood
(D) large woodland birds
20. The word surged in paragraph 5 is closest in meaning to
21. It can be inferred from paragraph 5 that “iror horses” were
(A) machines that made ties and fencing
(B) railroad company executives
(C) steam engines that moved trains
(D) animals that helped build railroads
22. Which sentence below best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence in paragraph 6? Incorrect choices change the meaning in important ways or leave out essential information.
(A) Most of the houses in the nineteenth century were log cabins or clapboard cottages with simple roofs.
(B) There were four or five main house sty I in the early nineteenth century, and all were built of wood.
(C) In the nineteenth century, wood construction was popular because wood could be used in a number of ways.
(D) Wood was the primary construction material of the vast majority of houses built in the early nineteenth century.
23. It can be inferred from paragraph 6 that in the early nineteenth century
(A) wooden houses were more popular than they are today
(B) the construction industry dominated the economy
(C) more people owned homes than they do today
(D) home heating was a major reason for cutting trees
24. According to paragraph 7, the tremendous increase in the production of lumber was primarily due i
(A) the availability of land
(B) an increase in the labor supply
(C) innovations in technology
(D) timber industry leadership
25. Look at the four squares, [A], [B], [C], [D] which indicate where the following sentence could be added to the passage. Where would the sentence best fit?
No other industry or consumer of wood could match the timber industry itself for the exploitation of North America’s forests.
[A] Throughout the century, the timber industry continued to supply the single most valuable raw material for a rapidly expanding population. Between 1840 and 1860, the annual production of lumber rose from 1.6 million to 8 billion board feet. [B] This increase was made possible by the widespread application of steam power. Wood-fueled steam engines powered the sawmills, moved and barked the logs, and finished the boards. Railroad lines were now built right into the forests so that felled logs could be shipped directly to market. [C] These innovations had their greatest impact in the Great Lakes region. [D] By 1890 the technology of the timber industry had triumphed over the natural abundance of the forests, and woodlands that had once seemed endless were now depleted.
26. Read the first sentence of a summary of the passage. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer choices that express the most important ideas in the passage. Some sentences do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that are not presented in the passage or are minor ideas in the passage. This question is worth 2 points.
Many factors contributed to the deforestation of North America in the nineteenth century.
(A) Dense forests of elm, ash, beech, maple, oak, and hickory covered most of the eastern half of the continent.
(B) Several million acres of forest were cut to meet the growing population’s demand for farmland and wood.
(C) The iron, steamboat, railroad, and construction industries required huge amounts of wood.
(D) Each mile of railroad required two miles of fencing and 2,500 ties, which were made of oak and locust.
(E) After 1890, the timber industry moved into the West and South, cutting another 125 million acres of forest.
(F) Innovations in the timber industry greatly increased wood production but led to the depletion of forests.