Agricultural development and cultivation on steep lands led to severe
soil erosion in the nation in the 1920s and 1930s. In response, the
United States Department of Agriculture established the Soil Conservation
Service SCS) in 1935. The SCS established the North Appalachian
Experimental Watershed (NAEW) in the hills of Coshocton County to
study and develop methods of conserving soil and water resources.
The Federal government and Coshocton County purchased 1,047 acres
of land for the program and, in 1936, field research equipment was
installed and buildings constructed. The Works Progress Ädministration
(WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) provided labor near the
program's inception, as did the Civilian Public Service Agency
during World War II.
The NAEW is known worldwide for development of water measurement
instrumentation, including the "Coshocton wheel," a rotating sampler
powered by flowing runoff; and weighing lysimeters (65-ton blocks
of natural soil that measure surface runoff, evaporation, percolation
and water storage). The NAEW also pioneered the development of
"no-till" and conservation tillage agriculture to reduce runoff and
erosion in fields. Other accomplishments include improving grazing
management, supporting the development of the "curve number"
worldwide to estimate runoff), and conducting a landmark
study on mininq and reclamation
effects in southeast Ohio. A
reorganization in 1954 transferred the station to the USDA's
In 1973, The Ohio State University's Ohio
Agricultural Research and Development Service Center became a partner
at the station until it closed in 2015.