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MEUSE, a department of north-eastern France, formed out of a part of Lorraine (portions of the Three Bishoprics, and the Barroisand Clermontais) and Champagne. Pop. (1906), 280,220. Area, 2409 sq. m. It is bounded N. by Belgium and the department of Ardennes, E. by that of Meurthe-et-Moselle, S. by those of Vosges and Haute-Marne, and W. by those of Marne and Ardennes. About one-half belongs to the b'asin of the river Meuse, which is enclosed on the west by the wooded region of Argonne, on the east by the hills known as the Cotes de Meuse. On the north-east it is watered by the Orne, a tributary of the Moselle, and the Chiers, which runs by Montmedy to join the Meuse. The other half sends its waters to the Seine by the Aire, a tributary of the Aisne, both of which take their rise here, and by the Ornain, an affluent of the Saulx, the two last being tributary to the Marne. The highest elevation (1388 ft.) occurs to the south-west, on the line of the ridge which separates the basin of the Meuse from that of the Seine. The heights gradually sink from south to north, but seldom fall below loco ft. The hills of the Argonne similarly sink rapidly down to the valley of the Saulx, where the lowest level of the department (377 ft.) is reached. Its winters are less severe than those of the Vosges, but it is not so temperate as the Seine region. The average annual rainfall is about 30 in. The chief crops of the department are wheat, oats, rye, barley, clover, potatoes and mangel-wurzels. The vine is cultivated to some extent, the best growths being those of Bar. The forests, occupying more than a quarter of the area, are principally of oak, and are rich in game, as are the rivers in fish. Basketmaking is prosecuted in the Argonne. The mineral wealth of the department includes good freestone (Euville, Lerouville). It has iron and steel works, wire-works, and manufactories of files, hardware and edge tools. Ligny-en-Barrois (pop. 4879) manufactures scientific instruments. There are cotton-spinning, wool-weaving, and hemp, flax and jute factories, saw-mills, carriage works, leather manufactures, glassworks, papermills, distilleries and flour-mills. The department is served by the Eastern railway, the principal lines being that from Paris to Strassburg through Bar-le-Duc and Commercy, that from Paris to Metz through Verdun, and the branch line of the Meuse valley. The chief waterways are the canal connecting the Marne with the Rhine and the Eastern canal along the Meuse valley; the two together have a length of 145 miles. Ecclesiastically the department forms the diocese of Verdun; it has its court of appeal at Nancy, and constitutes part of the district of the army corps of Chalons-sur-Marne, and of the educational division of Nancy. There are 4 arrondissements Bar-le-Duc, Commercy, Montmedy and Verdun 28 cantons and 586 communes. The principal places in the department are Bar-le-Duc, the capital, Commercy, Verdun and St Mihiel, which receive separate treatment. Other places of interest are Avioth, which has a church of the 14th and 1sth centuries with a beautiful chapel of the 15th century adjoining it, and Rembercourt-aux-Pots with a fine church of the 15th century.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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