A combination of the Italian piemonte and the French pied, piedmont describes a plain, terrace, slope, or expanse of hills at the base of mountains. In North America the term is largely synonymous with the wide band of rolling hills and farmland just east of the Appalachian range. (There is also a Colorado Piedmont along the eastern slope of the Rockies.) The clay soils and agrarian cultures of the eastern Piedmont stretch far beyond the shadow of the Appalachians. The region reaches from New Jersey to Alabama, bounded on the eastern edge by the fall line that drops to the sandy soils of the coastal plain. It forms a wide intermediary between the Atlantic coast and the mountains, a half step between sea level and the highest elevations the eastern half of the continent has to offer. The Piedmont was settled early and heavily in post-Columbian times and is now home to some of the most fragmented natural habitat on the continent.

Jan DeBlieu