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Minnesota; Its Character and Climate by Ledyard Bill

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_Author of "A Winter in Florida" etc., etc._


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871,


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.







By general consent Minnesota has enjoyed a superior reputation for
climate, soil, and scenery beyond that of any other State in the Union,
with, perhaps, a single exception.

The real ground of this pre-eminence, especially in climate, has not
been well understood, owing, probably, in part, to the slight
acquaintance with the general features and characteristics of the State
itself, and, in part, to that want of attention which the subject of
climatology and its effects on the health of mankind has deserved.

Lying to the north of the heretofore customary lines of travel, the
State has been visited by few comparatively, except those whose
immediate interests necessitated it, and even they have gleaned but an
imperfect knowledge of either the climate or of the unusual beauty and
interest which so distinguish Minnesota from all other Western States.

Instead of the low, level, treeless plain usually associated with one's
ideas of the West, there is the high, rolling country, extending many
miles back from the eastern frontier, while the general elevation of the
State is upward of one thousand feet above the sea--abounding in
pleasant and fertile valleys, large and valuable forests, together with
many beautiful lakes, nearly all of which are filled with the purest of
water and with great numbers of the finest fish.

While the attractions of Minnesota for the tourist and emigrant have
been duly considered in these pages, those of the climate for the
invalid have received especial consideration, and we have added such
hints and suggestions as circumstances seemed to demand; together with
observations on other localities and climates favorable to pulmonic

BROOKLYN, N.Y., 1871.




The water system of the State.--Its pure atmosphere.--Violations of
hygienic laws.--A mixed population.--General features of the
country.--Intelligence of the population.--The bountiful
harvests.--Geographical advantages.



The source of the river.--The importance of rivers to governments as
well as commerce.--Their binding force among peoples.--The rapids at
Keokuk.--Railroad and steamboat travelling contrasted.--Points at which
travellers may take steamers.--Characteristics of Western
steamboats.--Pleasuring on the Upper Mississippi.--The scenery and its



Brownsville, the first town.--The city of La Crosse.--Victoria and
Albert Bluffs.--Trempeleau and Mountain Island.--The city of
Winona.--Its name and origin.--The Winona and St. Peters Railroad--The
Air-Line Railroad.--Her educational interests.--Advancement of the
West.--The towns of Wabasha and Reed's Landing.--Lake Pepin and Maiden's
Rock.--Romantic story.--An old fort.--Lake City and Frontenac.--Red Wing
and Hastings.--Red Rock.



As seen from the deck of the steamer.--The pleasant surprise it gives
the visitor.--Impressions regarding new places.--The beauties of the
city.--The limestone caves.--Pere Louis Hennepin.--The population of St.
Paul.--Its public buildings and works.--A park wanted.--The geological
structure of the country.--St. Paul, the Capital city.--Its railroad
connections.--The head of navigation.--Impressions.



The climatic divisions of the country.--Periodical rains.--Prevailing
winds of the continent.--Changes of temperature.--Consumption in warm
climates.--Cold, humid atmospheres.--What climate most desirable for the
consumptive.--The dry atmosphere of the interior.--Dry winds of the
interior.--Table of rainfall of the whole country.



The atmosphere of Minnesota.--Its dryness.--Falling snow.--Equability of
temperature.--Rain-fall for spring.--The constitutional character of the
climate.--The lakes and rivers of the State.--The northeast
winds.--Where the northeasters begin.--Their general direction and
limit.--The atmospheric basin of Iowa.--Neglect of meteorology.--Its
importance to the country.



Consumption mapped out.--The east winds.--Comparative
statistics.--Number of original cases of consumption in
Minnesota.--Consumption can be cured.--Rev. Jeremiah Day.--Fresh air the
best medicine.--The benefit of a dry atmosphere.--Equability of
temperature.--The power of the mind over disease.--Kinds of
consumption.--Danger in delays.



Prevention better than cure.--Local causes of disease.--Our school
system objectionable.--Dr. Bowditch's opinion.--Location of our
homes important.--Damp soils prolific of lung troubles.--Bad
ventilation.--Value of sunshine.--City girls and city life.--Fashionable
society.--Tight lacing fatal to sound health.--Modern living.--The iron
hand of fashion.



Indiscretions.--Care of themselves.--Singular effect of consumption on
mind.--How to dress.--Absurdities of dress.--Diet.--Habits of
people.--How English people eat.--What consumptives should eat.--Things
to be remembered.--The vanity of the race.--Pork an objectionable
article of diet.--Characteristics of the South.--Regularity in
eating.--The use of ardent spirits by invalids.--The necessity of
exercise.--The country the best place to train children.--Examples in
high quarters.--Sleep the best physician.--Ventilation.--Damp
rooms.--How to bathe.



The best localities for invalids and others.--The city of
Minneapolis.--Its drives and objects of interest.--Cascade and Bridal
Falls.--Fort Snelling.--Minnehaha Falls.--The city and Falls of St.
Anthony.--Anoka and St. Cloud.--Fishing and hunting.--Wilmar and
Litchfield.--Lake Minnetonka.--Experience in fishing.--Some "big
fish."--White Bear Lake.--The Minnesota Valley.--Le Sueur--St. Peters
and Mankato.--Minneopa Falls.--Southwestern Minnesota.--Its agricultural
wealth and capabilities.--Northern Pacific Railroad and its
branches--The Red River country.--Trade with Manitoba.--Western life and



Its location and rapid growth.--Who named for.--Enterprise of its
people.--Its fine harbor.--Duluth Bay.--The steamship connection with
eastern cities.--Pleasure travel up the lakes.--The Lake Superior and
Mississippi Railroad.--The shortest route East for grain.--Public
improvements.--The fishing, lumber, and mining interests.



The Northwest.--Its great extent and character.--J. Cooke, Esq.--The
Northern Pacific Railroad and its advantages.--The general line of the
road.--The shortest route to Asia.--The Red River valley.--Puget
Sound.--The future of our country.



Sketches of other climates and localities favorable to
invalids.--California.--Mortuary statistics of San Francisco.--The wet
and dry seasons.--San Diego the best place.--Florida and its
reputation.--Nassau as a resort.--Fayal and its climate.--English and
American visitors.--Means of access.




The water system of the Stare.--Its pure atmosphere.--Violations of
hygienic laws.--A mixed population.--General features of the
country.--Intelligence of the population.--The bountiful
harvests.--Geographical advantages.

The interest attaching to the State of Minnesota, as compared with other
of the Western States, is two-fold. While all are well known for their
great fertility and prosperity, Minnesota alone lays special claim to
prominence in the superiority of her climate. How much this may be due
to her peculiar geographical position is not wholly evident, but its
influence must be great; and it is important to observe that the
position of the State is central, being, in fact, the very heart of the

It is likewise remarkable for the vast water systems which have their
origin within its boundaries, and their outlet through three of the
great interior valleys, namely, the Red River, northward to Hudson's
Bay; the St. Lawrence, eastward through the lakes; the Mississippi
River, southward, and all having one grand terminus where, through the
powerful agency of the great river of the ocean, the "Gulf Stream,"
their reunited waters are borne away to the tropics, again to be
returned, in gentle rains, to this central and elevated plateau known as
the State of Minnesota.

Since the first settlement of the State it has become gradually known as
possessing an extremely salubrious climate. There was no scientific or
official board of weatherwise people to proclaim the advantages of this
young State, either in this or any other particular; but, by a continued
succession of extremely favorable reports from the early settlers
immigrating from adjoining districts, and from unhealthful and malarious
localities in the older and more eastern States, her reputation steadily
increased until the sanitary fame of this "far northwest" is now
coextensive with its civil history.

The chief characteristics of a healthful climate are pure atmosphere and
pure water. These are seldom found in conjunction, except in the
temperate latitudes; though there are a few localities in the
sub-tropical regions where these conditions may be found, such as Fayal,
off the coast of Spain; the high altitudes of some of the Bahama and
Philippine islands; also at San Diego in California; and likewise at St.
Augustine, on the east coast of Florida. There are others which do not
as readily occur to us at this writing. These two elements are always
absolutely necessary to insure a good degree of health, but they do not
secure it; quite far from it, as is well known, since the most careless
observer must have noticed the varying sanitary degrees of localities in
temperate latitudes, that are even contiguous to each other; the one,
perhaps, being highly malarious, while the other is measurably
healthful. And, again, great districts, occupying a half of a State, are
so detrimental to sound health that half their population are whelmed
with fevers--bilious, intermittent, and typhoid--from year's end to
year's end. Such a locality is the valley of the Wabash River, in
Indiana. In passing through that country, after a season of prolonged
wet summer weather, we have seen more of the inhabitants prostrate from
disease, incidental to the climate, than there were well ones to care
for them.

It is seen that the selection of a home for ourselves and families is a
matter of the very highest moment to all who desire to prolong life and
enjoy the full possession of all their powers. Very trifling attention
has been given this question, as a rule, since we see on all hands
multitudes crowding into unhealthy precincts, to say nothing of those
more pestilential-breeding apartments which are everywhere inhabited by
the poorer class, as well as by thousands of the well-to-do and
intelligent people of both town and country. It is noteworthy, however,
to observe the increasing interest manifested of late in all things
pertaining to the laws of hygiene; and yet the alphabet of the subject
remains a profound mystery to the greater masses of men. Much praise
should be awarded the daily press for its dissemination of valuable
hints and arguments upon all the vital questions of health; and, but for
newspapers, indeed, there would be no practical means of reaching the
millions who, more than all others, so much need to be taught these
invaluable, first lessons of life.

The tide of emigration from the seaboard to the West has usually
followed parallel lines; so that we find the State of Texas settled, for
the most part, by people from the States lying upon the Gulf, while in
Missouri they hail largely from the Carolinas, and from what were once
known as the border slave States. Going farther north, to Minnesota, a
preponderance of the New England element is found; though people from
all the various States of the Union are encountered to a greater extent
than in any of the others lying in the Northwest; and this fact is
important as one of the circumstantial evidences of the great repute
this State bears, _par excellence_, in the matter of her climate. We
cannot suppose that this minor and miscellaneous population were
attracted hither from any special attachment either to the people or the
institutions of the commonwealth, but rather in quest of that health
and vigor lost within their own warm, enervating, or miasmatic homes,
which so abound in all the central and southern portions of the Union.
Finding their healths measurably benefited by a residence here, they
have brought their families, engaged in their various callings, and may
now be found settled permanently in their new homes throughout all the
towns and villages of the State.

Minnesota is known as the New England of the West, this appellation
growing out of the fact that the great preponderance of her citizens, as
before stated, are either of New England birth or origin; and this
well-merited _sobriquet_ has, likewise, an additional application, since
the general face of the country is diversified and quite in contrast
with the endless stretch and roll of the shrubless prairies of some of
the other great western and adjoining States.

The traveller has but to pass over the flat surface of the State of
Illinois, and the nearly treeless country of Iowa, to duly appreciate
the pleasing contrast which the State of Minnesota affords. While there
is an utter absence of anything like mountain ranges (excepting upon the
north shore of Lake Superior, where a belt of granite lifts itself above
the surrounding woodlands), yet there is, everywhere, either a patch of
timber, a valley bounded by gently receding country, or some gem of a
lake set in the more open rolling prairie--all adding beauty and
endless variety to the generally picturesque landscape.

It might be entirely safe to assume that the people of Minnesota, as a
whole, are distinguished by a more aesthetic character than their
neighbors living in the nearly dead level country below them. It is but
reasonable to suppose that some, at least, in seeking new homes, would
give a preference to attractive localities, even at the sacrifice of
something of fertility; which is, to some extent, the case; as the low
flat lands of the rivers below are unrivalled in their power of
production--whether it be of the grains of wheat or disease. It is well
known that scores of those moving into the West seek only the rich level
lands which are easily manipulated; requiring no application, during
their natural lives, of any restorative. And, if it only be free from
surface obstructions at the outset, they are content--asking no
questions relating to the more important matters of life, such as
concern the health, companionship, and education of either their
families or themselves, and accounting all the influences of the
surrounding prospect as of no value.

Perhaps the ratio of increase in population is not greater in Minnesota
than in some of her adjoining sister States, notwithstanding her
superior attractions of climate and scenery. Yet, if this be true, it is
readily accounted for in that the majority of the people moving
westward do not readily consent to make their new homes north of the
parallel of their old ones. On the contrary, the general tendency is to
drop southward, desiring to escape as much as may be the protracted cold
of winter; forgetting, or never knowing, that the isothermal lines have
a general northwest direction as they cross the continent. Many, also,
as before mentioned, who seek solely a fertile soil, or those who wish
to engage in a purely pastoral life (where the open and unreclaimed
country is so favorable), move, as a rule, to points south of a due west
course; thus leaving the more northern latitudes to such only as have an
eye for them on account of their varied attractions, and who are quite
willing to exchange a few dollars of extra income for a few pounds of
extra flesh, and who count health as first-rate capital stock and the
full equivalent of any other kind which a settler can possess.

Notwithstanding this general tendency of things, we believe the net
increase in both population and wealth, for the last decade, to be
relatively as great in the State of Minnesota as in that of any other
State in the Union; or, at least, far above the average in the
aggregation of those things which make up their power and importance.

It would be a grave error, however, if the mind of the reader was left
with the impression that this State was lacking in the fertility of her
soil, and in those other elements so essential to the foundation, true
prosperity, and greatness, such as can only come from a well-ordered
system of agriculture and from prolific fields. Far from this,--on the
contrary, she is widely known at home and abroad as presenting as many
inducements on the score of husbandry alone as any of the most highly
favored of States. There doubtless is a percentage of advantage in
richness of soil; but this is more than counterbalanced by the living
springs and flowing streams that everywhere dot and cross her surface.
Ask the farmer on the distant plains what consideration he would give
for pure and abundant water as against soil. Her grasses are more tender
and sweeter, and her beef better than is that of those localities which
rival her in fertility. Go walk through the waving fields of golden
grain in summer-time, spread almost endlessly up and down her beautiful
valleys, and far out over the rolling prairies, and then answer if eye
ever beheld better, or more of it, in the same space, anywhere this side
of the Sierras.

Wheat is the great staple product of the West, and is the chief article
of export. It is this, more than all things else, which puts the
thousands of railway trains in motion, and spreads the white wings of
commerce on all the lakes and oceans. This important grain is, in the
valley of the Mississippi, nowhere so much at home as in this State. The
superior quality of the berry, and the abundant and steady yield of her
acres, long since settled the question of her rank as a grain-producing
State. The future has in store still greater triumphs in this same
department for this young and noble commonwealth. She is at present in
her veriest infancy, and, indeed, can scarcely be said to have taken the
first step in that career which is so full of brilliant promise and
grand capabilities.

Lest it be thought we have an overweening love for our subject, beyond
its just deserts, let us add here that the State has, in its
geographical position, most extraordinary advantages, which, at present,
are little known and of little worth, but which the future must
inevitably develop. The vast and fertile region lying to the northwest
of Minnesota, drained and watered by the Red. Assiniboine, and
Saskatchawan Rivers respectively, and well known to be capable of
maintaining a dense population, must draw its supplies, and seek outlet
for its products, always paying tribute at the gates of this
commonwealth in both cases.

Then there is the great national enterprise known as the North Pacific
Railroad, on which already the iron horse has commenced his race, and
which is being rapidly and determinedly carried forward, giving augury
of a successful and speedy conclusion. This road passes through the
central zone of the State, and, with its briearian arms, must cumulate
untold wealth and power, only to be emptied into this "lap of empire."



The source of the river.--The importance of rivers to governments as
well as commerce.--Their binding force among peoples.--The rapids at
Keokuk.--Railroad and steamboat travelling contrasted.--Points at which
travellers may take steamers.--Characteristics of Western
steamboats.--Pleasuring on the Upper Mississippi.--The scenery and its

The great central watershed of the continent is found within the
boundaries of the State of Minnesota, and the rains precipitated on this
elevated plateau move off in opposite directions, becoming the sources
of some of the principal rivers of this vast interior basin, with their
waters flowing both to the Arctic and Equatorial Seas.

The chief of these is that of the "Father of Waters," rising in Lake
Itaska, and emptying in the Mexican Gulf, separated by a distance of
more than two thousand miles, washing in its course the shores of nine
States, all embraced by this, the most fertile and important valley
known to mankind. As an aid to civilization and to commerce, its value
can never be fully estimated or completely comprehended.

Rivers are frequently important, in connection with mountain ranges, as
supplying natural boundaries for governments and peoples who dwell on
either side; but, they likewise perform the more important office of
binding with indissoluble bonds communities living along their banks and
tributaries, from origin to outlet, making their interests common and
population kin.

The European Carlyles and believers in the divine rights of kings have,
in view of the influx of discordant races and the jarring elements
within, together with the cumbrous machinery of our government,
prophesied that disintegration and ruin would ere long be ours. But they
took no note of the harmony and fraternal feeling that must come between
peoples so differing, when all have equal share in a government founded
in justice, and on the broad principles of human right; and, last but
not least, the important influence of those commercial relations which
we sustain to each other, growing out of the general configuration and
accessibility of the country occupied and governed.

The Mississippi River is the natural outlet and grand highway to the
Northwest, and contributed everything toward its early settlement; so
that a sketch of it seems indispensable in connection with that of the
State in which it has its rise, and with which its chief interest and
history are intertwined.

It is practically divided into two sections, that below Keokuk being
known as the _Lower_, and that above (the part of which we now propose
to consider) as the


This designation comes from having well-defined boundaries, in
consequence of a ledge of rocks lying across the river immediately above
the city of Keokuk, which, during the lower stages of water, wholly
prevents the passage of the larger class of steamers plying on the river

From this point, there are about six hundred miles in one continuous
stretch of navigation, up to the city of St. Paul. On this upper river a
smaller class of steamers are usually employed; though, at good stages
of water, the larger boats are abundant; and, indeed, one of the most
important lines in the upper river, the Northwestern Union Packet
Company, employs five large steamers, which run between St. Louis and
St. Paul, except in the very dry seasons. The small steamers, so called,
are really large and commodious; but so constructed--as are in fact all
of the steamers plying on our western rivers--that they draw but little
water, being large and nearly flat-bottomed, sitting on the surface like
a duck, and moving along, when lightly loaded, with apparent ease and at
a comparatively high rate of speed.

It is always a pleasing reflection to the tourist, and a comforting one
to the invalid, to know that at least a portion of their journey may be
performed on board of a well-kept and convenient steamship. They
contrast so favorably with the dusty train, that we wonder the latter
are half as well patronized as they are, when the two means of
conveyance are running on parallel lines. But then we know very well
that the man of business and people in haste do that which saves most
time, regardless entirely of themselves, and more frequently of their
neighbors, who have, in consequence of open windows, taken a thousand
colds, and suffered pains, neuralgic and rheumatic, sufficient to have
atoned for the sins of a world of such as these--their inconsiderate
fellow-travellers. Then the quantity of dust and smoke and cinders to be
swallowed and endured, the damage to eyes of those who would beguile the
mind into that forgetfulness of self; so painfully reminded of both the
strait-jacket and the old-time, cruel stocks. Then the utter
obliviousness to all hygienic law in the packing of a score or more of
people, like so many herrings in a box, into sleeping cars, over-heated
and worse ventilated, and not--if measured by the rules of any common
sense--more than sufficient for a fourth of the number occupying. How
often have we risen in the morning, after spending the night in this
manner, with a feeling akin to that which we fancy would come from being
knocked in the head with a sack of meal, then gently stewed, and all out
of pure fraternal regard to supply any deficiencies in our original
bakings. The operation is certainly quite neat, and entirely successful,
since all who have tried it are left in no sort of doubt as to their
having been, at least once, thoroughly cooked. Perhaps a philosophical
view is best, and all feel grateful for the double service rendered,
while the charge for transportation only is incurred.

This is, however, too serious a business for much of jesting, as
thousands are made to feel who have had occasion to travel much; and who
is there of this restless, moving population of ours that does not,
either on business or pleasure, make, sooner or later, extensive
journeys? We are not unmindful of the many and important improvements
made in the construction of railway carriages within the last decade,
greatly tending to the conservation of both the health and comfort of
the passenger; but there is still a good chance for inventors to attain
both fame and fortune, if only the dust and cinders be kept out and
fresh air kept in, without hazarding the health of any one by exposure
to its draughts.

These drawbacks to health and comfort in travelling are measurably
avoided when journeying in or to the Northwest during the season of
navigation. The Ohio River furnishes such an escape to the invalid
seeking this region from the central belt of States; and the great lakes
supply a more northern range of country; while less than a half day's
ride from Chicago places one at either Dubuque, Prairie du Chien, or La
Crosse, where daily boats may be had for St. Paul or any of the towns

These steamers differ widely from those in use on any of the rivers in
the Eastern States, and while not as substantial, seem better adapted to
the trade and travel on these interior rivers. Beyond occasional violent
winds there is nothing in the elements for them to encounter, and hence
they are built low to the water, of shallow draft, and an entire absence
of all closed bulwarks used to keep out the sea by those plying in
stormy waters. These western river boats would scarce survive a single
passage on any large body of water, yet, for all the purposes for which
they are required here, they seem admirably fitted.

In making the journey from Dubuque to St. Paul and return, one of these
steamers--and yet not of the largest class--requires a supply of five
hundred bushels of coal, and full one hundred and twenty-five cords of
wood, to keep its devouring furnaces ablaze and its wheels in motion.
The round trip between these two points is made, including the landings,
in about three days. The _up_-trip is performed with as great speed as
that is down, owing to the greater economy of time in making the
landings. In going up these are easily made, with bows on shore (they
have no wharves); in coming down stream the ship is compelled, for her
own safety, to turn in the river before reaching the landing, and then
run "bows on," the same as when going up, else, if this was not done,
the current of the river, which is often quite powerful, might drive
the vessel too high on the shore, or wheel it around to its damage. This
evolution requires a few minutes for its performance at each landing,
and thus the whole time is about equally divided in the going and

The average dimensions of the class of steamers employed in this trade
may be said to be about two hundred and forty feet in length and
thirty-five in breadth, drawing from two to four feet of water, with
accommodations for about one hundred and fifty cabin and as many more
second-class passengers.

The first deck is wholly devoted to the machinery and freight; and all
is exposed to view from every side. The great furnaces occupy the centre
of this deck, and their lungs of fire roar and breathe flames eagerly
and dangerously out, like a serpent's forked, flashing tongue. The sides
glow and swell from the increasing heat, and the iron arms of the
machinery tremble and quake with the pent-up and rapidly accumulating
forces, running unseen to and fro, only too ready to lend a helping
hand--at anything. The seat of power in all this is, like the seat of
power everywhere, hot and revolutionary, and those who occupy it must be
vigilant, as only one head can control, though that is not unfrequently,
on these western waters, the Cylinder head.

The fuel is in front and along, next the furnaces; while the freight is
stacked on the bows and along the sides and aft, which is likewise the
place where the ship's crew sleep, in bunks ranged on either hand above
each other, like shelves, sheltering the sleeper only from the rains.
The live stock is usually crowded into close quarters on the after and
outlying guards, having a high railing and strong supports. By a
staircase from the main deck in front the grand saloon is reached. This
is the interesting feature of all these large river steamers. Fancy a
saloon one hundred and fifty feet in length, richly carpeted and
upholstered, having large pendant chandeliers, glittering with all the
known prismatic colors, the whole overarched by fancy scroll-work in
pleasing combination with the supports to the ceiling and floor above;
and, as is frequently the case, all being highly ornate, makes a fancy
scene not unworthy of association with the famous palace of Aladdin, as
given us in the charming stories of the _Arabian Nights_.

This, with some slight exaggerations in style, perhaps, is the home of
the traveller while journeying on this upper and most interesting
portion of the entire river.

At night, with the saloon and ship all lighted, the scene is both
inspiriting and brilliant. Above the roll of the machinery and noise of
the dashing waters comes the grateful melody of happy voices, lulling
the tired traveller to repose and chasing away from other faces all
recollection of painful responsibilities and cares.

A sail on this upper river is a beautiful one, and all who can should
make it. The scenery is not as varied or striking as is that of the
Hudson, of which one is constantly reminded; but it is nevertheless
attractive and quite peculiar. The banks of the Lower Mississippi have
risen here to high towering bluffs, giving a highly picturesque
character to the landscape. This is the region of the lower magnesian
limestone; and as it builds up these bluffs and crops out along their
sides and at the tops, worn by the winds and rains of centuries--these
rock exposures, gray and moss covered, have rounded into striking
resemblances of old ruins, as if buried by convulsions in some unknown
age, the homes of some possible race of Montezumas, of which these are
the only monuments and records.

They often rise to the height of four and sometimes five hundred feet
above the river, standing singly or in groups, and again stretch for
long distances like the Palisades of the Hudson, differing from them in
that they are not as abrupt and have their sides covered with the most
luxuriant sward.

Those who can should climb to the summit of one of these cliffs and get
a glimpse of as lovely a picture as it is possible to find in a journey
round the world. The winding river, dotted all over with islands and
fringed along its shores with forest-trees, expanding now into some
miniature lake, then lost and broken by some intervening bluff, to the
right or left of which stretches the distant prairie; the whole forming
a panoramic view unrivalled in interest and beauty by any we have ever
seen elsewhere.

It is impossible for us adequately to describe to the reader these
varying scenes of beauty in the landscapes which present themselves as
we sail. They should come and see for themselves, and bask in the pure,
bracing atmosphere, and the genial sunshine of these bluest of blue



Brownsville, the first town.--The city of La Crosse.--Victoria and
Albert Bluffs.--Trempeleau and Mountain Island.--The city of
Winona.--Its name and origin.--The Winona and St. Peters Railroad.--The
Air-Line Railroad.--Her educational interests.--Advancement of the
West.--The towns of Wabasha and Reed's Landing.--Lake Pepin and Maiden's
Rock.--Romantic story.--An old fort.--Lake City and Frontenac.--Red Wing
and Hastings.--Red Rock.

The first landing in Minnesota, going up the river, is made at


a very small village, nestled close in under the hillside, and
overshadowed by the high bluffs which seem to threaten its existence,
and would quite exterminate it should land-slides ever become possible
with these silicious limestone battlements. Beyond being an outlet for
surplus products of the back country, it has no importance and no
attractions. The traveller is now one hundred and thirty miles above
Dubuque, one of the points of embarkation for those from the East who
visit the State by the way of the river. If the sail is made by daylight
between these places, most suggestive impressions are made on the mind
of the immense area of Iowa; for, while constantly expecting soon to
catch a glimpse of "Dakota Land," you are all day baffled by the
presence of this intervening State, which, somehow, seems determined to
travel with you up the river, and, by its many attractions, woo you to
residence and rest.

The fertile fields of Wisconsin, on the other hand, do not seem at all
obtrusive, since you expect them on your right soon after leaving
Dunleith; and, when the city of


comes in view, its bright aspect of industrial life, its busy streets,
spacious warehouses, fine shops, and thronging commerce, challenge our
love of the good and beautiful in civilized life. Indeed, this handsome
and prosperous city is one of the most pleasant and interesting places
which attract the traveller's attention along the two thousand miles of
this navigable river.

Many, in coming to the "Northwest" by the way of Chicago, travel as far
as La Crosse by rail, where abundant opportunities are had for steam
transportation to St. Paul, and all intervening towns.

The islands have now so multiplied that here, and for some distance
above, the river seems more an archipelago than anything else. Islands
of all sizes and shapes, wooded and embowered with a great variety of
shrubs and vines, so that in springtime they seem like emeralds set in
this "flashing silver sea;" and when summer is ended, and the frost-king
has come, they are robed in royal splendor--in crimson and purple and
gold--seeming to be the fanciful and marvellous homes of strangest
fairies, who, during this season of enchantment hold, it is said, at
midnight, high carnival on the islands of this upper and beautiful
river. Be that as it may, they certainly add to the attractions of a
sail along this "Father of Waters," and give picturesqueness to the
landscape which, before seeing, we had not credited with so much of
interest and beauty as we found it to possess.

A couple of hours' additional steaming brings us to the lofty peaks
standing on the left of the river, one of which, from the resemblance of
its crest to the crown of England, has given rise to the names of
Victoria and Albert. They are over five hundred feet in height, and
believed to be the tallest of any of the cliffs along the river. Beyond,
on the right, stands boldly the lone sentinel of Mountain Island, at the
base of which is the small village of Trempeleau, where a moment's halt
is made, and the wheels of the great ship splash through the water
again, all tremulous with nervous energy and pent-up power as they bend
slowly to their slavish labor; and, the only labor that man has any
right to make a slave of is that with iron arms and metallic lungs. He
may compel these to work and groan and sweat at every pore with honor to
himself and the added respect of all mankind.

A few miles further and the city of


is in view. This is the most populous town in the State of Minnesota
south of St. Paul. It occupies a low, level tract projecting from the
base of the bluffs, which circle its rear in the shape of an ox-bow,
and, in times of high water, becomes an island, owing to its great
depression at its junction with the bluffs. The town stands on the front
of this low plateau, along the channel of the river, and has a
population of nine thousand people, counting the nomadic lumbermen, who
live half the year in the piny woods many hundred miles to the north,
and the other half are floating on the rafts down the river; a rough but
useful people, who betimes will lose their heads and winter's wages in a
single drunken fray, which they seem to consider the highest pleasure
vouchsafed to them each season as they return to the walks of civilized

The pleasant sounding name of Winona is one of the many Dakota words
abounding along the river and over the State, and was the appellation of
the beautiful Indian girl who so tragically ended her life by leaping
from the top of Maiden's Bluff, bordering the eastern shore of Lake
Pepin above, and of which we shall presently speak more in detail.

It is a name always given by the Dakotas to the first-born female child
of a family. As was the maiden, celebrated in song and story, so is the
town, quite handsome and interesting in many points of aspect. It is the
objective point for great quantities of freight by boat up the river, to
be from thence distributed through the whole southern section of
Minnesota by means of the important railway line extending from this
city to the interior, tapping the St. Paul and Milwaukee road at
Owatanna, and the St. Paul and Sioux City at St. Peter's and Mankato;
draining one of the most fertile districts in the commonwealth of its
immense stores of wheat and other grains seeking an outlet and an
eastern market. This road is known as the Winona and St. Peter's, and is
a trunk line, with the sure promise of increasing importance to the
State and profit to its projectors. By means of it the great lumber
marts of Minneapolis and St. Anthony, and likewise the Capital, are
brought in close proximity to this commercial city of Winona; and much
of the trade and travel of the fertile valley of the Minnesota River
must, by means of this line, prove tributary to the rapid growing town.

The march of progress is never ended in the life of the West; and, ere
the present year passes, an entirely new line both north and east will
have been completed, and then a new era of prosperity will be
inaugurated. We refer to the St. Paul and Chicago Air-Line Railway,
which, starting at St. Paul, follows the river banks to this place,
where it is to cross to Wisconsin, thence direct to Chicago, leaving La
Crosse forty miles below, and out of the line. Heretofore the means of
travel to Chicago and the east has been either by rail to Owatanna, far
to the west, or the more common practice of going by steamer in summer
and stage in winter to La Crosse, thus of necessity paying both
compliments and costs to this rival town, which has not been highly
relished by the Winonians. The new route will make them entirely
independent of the denizens of La Crosse. But both places have resources
peculiar to themselves and quite sufficient to insure prosperity and

Those visiting Winona are impressed with the general neatness of the
place, and the number and finish of its business blocks and private
residences. There are many fine churches erected, whose capacity, though
large, is not much greater than seems demanded by the church-going
inhabitants, which affords both a commentary and index to their general
high character. Among the public buildings worthy of special attention
is that of their Normal school, recently finished at a cost of over one
hundred thousand dollars, being a model of elegance and convenience.
This is a State institution, free to pupils of a certain class, and is
one of three--all of the same character--erected under the patronage of
the State, and for the location of which towns were invited to compete.
Winona secured this, Mankato another, and St. Cloud the third, all noble
buildings, as we can personally testify, and which give to the people of
this State opportunities such as those of the older commonwealths were
utterly destitute, and are still, so far as scope, scale, and affluence
are concerned. Then there is the city school, costing over half a
hundred thousand dollars, and likewise highly ornamental, as well as

New England long boasted of her superiority in the rank of her schools;
especially was this the case in Connecticut, where a school fund
existed, reducing somewhat the expense attending their maintenance; but
they used no part of this fund toward the building of school-houses, and
it is a question if it has not had there an opposite effect of what
originally it was intended to accomplish. The same old shabby
school-houses, fifteen by twenty, still do duty, and the district
committee annually figure with the many youthful candidates for
teachers--who, it used to be said, came there on a horse--to make the
per-head allowance of the school fund, with boarding around thrown in,
pay for their three months' services. Had the people understood they
must hand out the whole school expenses, and seen personally to the
education of their children, they would have had a livelier interest in
the whole business; and this, with compelled liberality, would have
paved the way for greater expenditure and effort. Neighborhood rivalries
of suitable buildings would have followed, and, instead of incompetent
teachers being the rule, they would have been the exception, and those
of us whose fortune it has been to be born in New England would not now
be such "jacks of all trades and masters of none" as we are. The West
deserves great commendation for their lively interest in all that
relates to the education of the young. Why, almost any of these States
excel those of New England in school matters, outside of two or three of
the great universities which they happen to possess. Several years ago,
in passing through Indiana and visiting several of the village schools,
we were surprised and astonished at the superior class of text-books
that were in use, and the improved methods of teaching in practice; and,
likewise, the prompt and intelligent manner of the scholar in his
exercises and examples, as compared with similar schools at the East;
all a proof of the superior methods and facilities in vogue.

The new States have had it in their power to do what most of the older
ones had not, and after all they cannot claim all the credit of their
advancement in these matters, for the general government shares part of
the honor in this wise provision for the education of the people, having
donated one section of land in every township in some of the newer
States. This was the case in Minnesota. These lands are to be used in
establishing a school fund, and this has already amounted to a large
sum--two million five hundred thousand dollars; and these normal school
buildings are an evidence alike of the wisdom of the measure and
magnitude of this fund.

The site of the town--while ample for a large city, having an area of
several miles in extent--seems rather too low to insure that dryness
essential to good health, though we believe its general sanitary
reputation is as good as any of the towns along the river, and this is
more than could be expected, since its general elevation scarce exceeds
a dozen feet above the river when at a fair stage of water. Its levee
accommodations are extensive and excellent, and the place must always
remain the most important in southern Minnesota.

Passing several minor towns and landings, along the river, we next come


a village of about fifteen hundred inhabitants, with the prettiest
location of any that we have yet seen. It stands on an elevated table,
about forty feet above the river, and invites the tourist and invalid,
by its pleasant quietness, to tarry and inspect the place. The
hospitable-looking hotel, with its ample lawn and grounds close by the
banks of the river, give promise of abundant rest and recreation.

The grain interest is the all-absorbing one at this point, as it is
everywhere along the river.

A short distance above, and


appears. This town is at the foot of Lake Pepin, and likewise at the
foot of a huge bluff. This place becomes in spring the terminus of the
steamers which are prevented from proceeding farther in consequence of
the heavier ice of the lake remaining an obstruction to commerce for a
period of ten days or two weeks longer than that in the river proper.


is nearly thirty miles in length, with an average width of about three
miles, presenting an unbroken sheet of water; bounded on both its sides
by tall perpendicular bluffs, with here and there isolated peaks
towering far above their companions, having something of the dignity of
mountain ranges.

This lake is famed for its great attractions of natural beauty, and is
not disappointing to the traveller. It is a singular body of water, and
while it is a part of the river still it differs from it in so many
aspects that it is fairly entitled to be termed a lake. Below, the river
is divided into numerous and devious channels by intervening islands of
an irregular and picturesque character, uniting to give a grand,
kaleidoscopic variety to the journey; but here, at Lake Pepin, the
waters have free scope, and rise and swell under the pressure of storms
sufficient to move and sway the heaviest fleets. The water is remarkably
clear and cold, and is said to be over a thousand feet in depth at some
points. It is a tradition among the Indians that the bed of the river,
with its islands, sank during a great storm, in which the earth trembled
and shook for many leagues around. This seems quite possible, and the
general formation of the lake indicates that their tradition is founded
on actual fact.

The chief point of interest attaching to this locality is that known as
the Maiden's Rock, a perpendicular cliff midway of the lake on the
eastern shore. Were there no legend connected with it, the eye would be
arrested by its lofty and impressive form, as it stands alone frowning
on the dark, deep waters of the lake below.

Chief Wapashaw, whose village once occupied the site of the present city
of Winona, had a daughter, _Weenonah_, the beauty and pride of all his
tribe. This fair maiden had been thwarted in her affections by powerful
and cruel hands, and rather than submit to unite her young life with
one, other than he whom she so fondly loved, resolved to sacrifice
herself. A fishing party, of which she was a member, proceeded to this
lake, and while resting on the eastern shore she fled away, and to the
top of this high eminence, where, discovering herself to the company
below, she recited the story of her broken heart and undying love for
him whose name she had been even forbade to speak, and, closing by
chanting a wild death-song, flung herself down the sides of this
terrible precipice, and was dashed in pieces. Her father and friends,
guessing her intent, on being hailed by her from the top of this rock,
dispatched, as the story goes, their fleetest of foot to her rescue, but
unavailingly. No Indian passes by this place of tragedy without uttering
mournful wails in memory of their beautiful and loved Weenonah.

Along the base of these cliffs are numerous caverns, once the abode of
wild beasts, and, even as late as Carver's visit, in 1766, numbers of
bears were found wintering in them, and in the minor caves numberless
rattlesnakes were seen by him. In his explorations in this immediate
neighborhood he discovered, on the edge of the prairie, the outlines of
an old fortification, which was distinctly traceable, and extended for
nearly a mile, in its sweep enveloping an area ample for five thousand
men. Its form was semi-circular, with the flanks resting on the river.
The whole appearance was as if it had been built full a century before
his visit, and while the ditch was indistinguishable, its angles were,
and "displayed as much of science as if built by a pupil of Vauban
himself." What race could have originally constructed it is a mystery,
certainly not any of the known tribes inhabiting this country. Carver
could not have misjudged the character of these intrenchments, since he
had himself received a military education, and was therefore, of all
explorers, not likely to be misled in his estimate.

The pleasure seeker will find it convenient to visit any portion of
Lake Pepin from any of the villages along its shores. From Lake City a
steamer usually plies to all interesting points, up and down the lake.
Those wishing to halt in a locality of rare beauty and refined society,
will choose FRONTENAC above.

Half a dozen miles above the north end of the lake comes


named after one of the great Dakota chiefs. It is attractively situated
on the esplanade adjoining the famous Barnes' Bluff, with an
amphitheatre of hills in the rear completely sheltering and hedging the
place from view as it is approached from the south. The bluff is between
four and five hundred feet in height, and on its summit lies buried the
remains of the great chief, Red Wing.

The place has an increased importance, now that the "Air-Line" railway
between St. Paul and Chicago passes through, giving speedy and constant
communication to those cities all the year round.

On reaching the mouth of the St. Croix, thirty miles above, both banks
of the Mississippi belong to Minnesota; the former watercourse filling
out the eastern boundary of the State.


is an important tributary to the Upper Mississippi, and penetrates one
of the great pine districts of the northwest. The principal business
done on this stream is lumbering, which gives employment to many
hundreds of people, and amounts in the aggregate to many thousands of
dollars annually. Navigation extends to Taylor's Falls, some sixty-five
miles from its mouth.

There is a regular line of steamers plying between St. Paul and the head
of navigation, making daily trips, and doing a prosperous business. They
are, however, quite small and apparently inadequate to the increasing

The most important of all the towns on the St. Croix is


with a population of several thousand souls. The chief object of
interest, statewise, is the penitentiary, which we did not care
particularly to examine. The city can boast, however, of a noble school
edifice, and county court-house, either of which would adorn any place
in the country.

There is at present no rail connection with St. Paul, though this want
is soon to be supplied, and when completed it is expected to extend the
line toward the railway system of Wisconsin and the East.

The St. Croix is famed among tourists for its beautiful scenery and
attractive falls at the head of navigation. Pleasure parties make
frequent excursions from St. Paul, and the trip is truly enjoyable if
you are always sure of so urbane and obliging an officer as is Captain
William Kent.

Just above the junction of these two rivers is the town of


one of the great wheat marts of the northwest. It has several thousand
inhabitants, the foreign element preponderating, we should judge. There
are no specially interesting features either in or about the immediate
neighborhood, if we except the Vermilion Falls.

The only remaining object worthy of attention, aside from the scenery of
the river, between this town and the city of St. Paul, is


camping-ground, situated on the east shore, on a level stretch of land
six feet above the river at high water. This tract is quite extensive,
and for the most part free of any timber beyond a grove or two, all of
which is now owned by the Methodist Association, and occupied by them
annually as a camp-ground.

This same ground was formerly used by the Indians as a camp-ground on
the assembling of the various tribes of the Dakotas in general council,
or on grand holidays, celebrated by all the various national bands. It
derives its name from a rock, which is about six feet in diameter and
nearly round, lying a few rods only from the river and in plain sight as
the steamer passes. This rock was mysteriously striped with red paint
every year by the Indians, and was known by them as the Red Rock. Long
after the occupation of the country by the whites, the custom of
painting it was regularly kept up while any of the race remained, and it
still bears marks of their work. No one ever saw them paint it, and it
is believed the work was secretly done at night. It was held sacred by
them as the abode of some good spirit, and received a certain homage,
such as these superstitious, polytheistic people were accustomed to
render their gods.



As seen from the deck of the steamer.--The pleasant surprise it gives
the visitor.--Impressions regarding new places.--The beauties of the
city.--The limestone caves.--Pere Louis Hennepin.--The population of
St. Paul.--Its public buildings and works.--A park wanted.--The
geological structure of the country.--St. Paul, the Capital city.--Its
railroad connections.--The head of navigation.--Impressions.

Our first visit to the Apostolic city was on the morning of one of those
golden days in early autumn, any one of which might have inspired
Longfellow's little poem, "A Day of Sunshine," they were so perfect.

The goodly ship on which we came was rounding a tract of low
meadow-land, skirted by some forest growths, when suddenly the streaming
sunlight was flashed back to us from the spires of the city of St. Paul
itself, sitting like a queenly crown at the head of this noblest of all

All were surprised and delighted to find that, in the matter of its
location and general appearance, it so far exceeded what our fancies had
painted it. No correct idea had been conveyed by any representation of
it that we had ever seen, nor had any sketch sufficiently outlined it
for the imagination to fill up; yet we were prepared to see a _pretty_
city, though not looking for a _grand_ one. The view from the deck of
the steamer, as the traveller approaches the place, is one of the best.
The river makes an abrupt turn to the westward, in front of the city,
which is situated on the northern side of this elbow, immediately at the
turn, with its face full southward down the river. It would, after all,
fail to be as imposing as it is but for its location, which is greatly
elevated above the river, rising from it in irregular grades, with
intervening tables, back fully a mile to the summit of the high bluffs
forming the rear of the city.

The common impression in relation to all towns in the new States, and
with reason, too, is, that they are of such rapid growth, under
speculative influences, as to often possess no solid elements of
prosperity, and that, after the first wave of excitement dies out, they
collapse; but if they have real advantages of position and enterprise
combined, the prize is as surely theirs. The critical period for St.
Paul has passed, like that in the life of its great namesake, and the
visitor, as he walks along the streets of the town, finds evidences of
its substantial and permanent growth on every hand.

Probably no place of the same population in the entire valley, from New
Orleans up, can boast of as many substantial and costly stores, or as
many elegant and tasteful houses, as can St. Paul. The fine prospect to
be had from every portion of the town is likewise a noted feature
peculiar to itself, and is what neither wealth nor art can create. Back,
on the edge of the bluff, which surrounds the city in a semi-circular
form, runs Summit Avenue, already a fashionable quarter, but which, ere
long, must be famed as commanding one of the most interesting landscapes
in a country abounding in many natural beauties.

From Dayton's Bluff, on the left, likewise an attractive point in
itself, the best view of the city can be had. Under this bluff is a
cave, which was used as the council-chamber of the red men, and has been
the witness of many a notable event. It is a subterraneous cavern formed
by the running water wearing away the soft, white, calcareous sand,
which, everywhere in this section, underlies the strata of blue
limestone next to the surface. There are several of these caves near the
town, but of no great interest beyond serving to while away an idle
hour, or to give some additional zest to a morning's ramble.

St. Paul received its name from Pere Louis Hennepin, a European,
belonging to the Order of Franciscans, who landed on the present site of
the city while on a voyage of exploration and discovery up the
Mississippi River, in April, 1680. He was an extensive traveller and
prolific writer; but of all things done by him, that of giving the name
of the famous Apostle to this locality, and now city, was by far the
best. The next hundred and fifty years passed by and still all a blank,
and not till 1850, the year following the territorial organization of
Minnesota, can it be said to have assumed the appearance of a permanent
settlement, with a population of perhaps a thousand adventurous souls.

The present enumeration of St. Paul, as given by the census of 1870,
just completed, shows a trifle over twenty thousand. This is not as high
a figure as the people had hoped for and counted upon; but yet this
shows an increase of about seventy-five per cent. for the last five
years. No one can walk the city and not believe that this recent and
rapid growth has substantial foundation in the enlarging business and
increasing importance of the town itself.

The public buildings and works of the city are worthy of note in any
sketch; and we would first call attention to the Capitol, which stands
obscured from the river, and back of the centre of business, on the
table between the front and rear bluffs. It is a plain structure of
brick, in the form of a cross, with wings of equal length. This must
eventually give room to a more suitable and dignified structure, yet for
all present needs, and during the infancy of the State, it is not at all

The most costly building, when finished, will be the Custom-House of
the General Government. It is being built of granite, brought from St.
Cloud, and is estimated to cost the handsome sum of three hundred
thousand dollars.

The interests of education are well looked after in the half-dozen
public school buildings; and the religious element has abundant
spiritual food dispensed from the full score of costly and well-ordered
church edifices, some of which contribute much to the architectural
grace and ornament of the town.

A notable feature in the landscape, as the city is approached by either
railroad or river, is the wooden bridge spanning the river just at the
steamboat landing. It is over a fourth of a mile in length, and built
upon an _inclined plane_, at a cost of one hundred and fifty thousand
dollars. The first abutment on the side of the city starts on a level
with the bluff, giving seventy-five feet between the bridge and the
river, and then falls rapidly away, supported by nine stone piers, to
the low flat land on the opposite shore. This is used as a carriage
road, and connects St. Paul with all the adjacent country on the
opposite side of the river. A half-mile beyond this bridge, the
companion bluff to that on which the city stands begins, rising to an
equal height with it. These bluffs, however, it should be stated, are
not of such imposing appearance as are those on the river below, and
concerning which we have written in a preceding chapter. They seem to
gradually lessen in height from four and five hundred feet at Lake
Pepin, where the greatest altitude occurs, to about one-third of that
here at St. Paul.

The city's supply of water is fine, and at all times abundant; a lake
back of the town being the natural reservoir of this supply. What has
been to many towns a great labor and burden, has here required but a
trifling expense.

Hotels are usually the traveller's thermometer by which he judges the
culture, beauty, and general characteristics of the town. It is quite
singular that people remember a town either with delight or disgust,
just in proportion as the entertainment furnished at their hotel is good
or bad, but there is more of truth in this than any of us would care at
first to acknowledge. The good people of St. Paul have, however, nothing
to fear in this respect. There are several fine establishments, chief of
which is the "Metropolitan," and then the "Park Place," with its cool
and ample verandahs, inviting travellers to repose and rest.

The question of a Public Park is being agitated, and with every hope
that it will be carried to successful results. But little attention has
been given this matter by any of our cities until a very recent period;
and now their beauty and utility having been established, many towns are
moving in this most important matter. St. Paul can afford to issue
bonds liberally to this end; and should the district under
consideration be secured, including the beautiful Lake Como, little
elaboration will suffice to make it immediately a notable feature of the

The strata of blue limestone near the surface, and on which the city
practically stands, is of great value, and quarries can be opened
anywhere, from which good building material in unlimited quantities can
be had at small cost; easily competing with lumber in the market, which
is likewise plentiful, as we shall see when we come to look into the
history and growth of the sister city on the river, above.

This stone already constitutes the chief material used in the erection
of all the better class of buildings in the city, and, indeed, Third
Street, the principal business thoroughfare, has even now little else
than this honest and solid-looking material to represent it.

The sandstone underlying the magnesian limestone, and which is so soft
as to be easily crushed, could be used we judge in the manufacture of
glassware at great profit to the manufacturer; but as yet, there is
nothing done that we know, and it is not strange when we reflect that it
is but a score of years since St. Paul was really occupied and settled.
All of this various strata of rock and sand belongs, geologically
speaking, to what is known as the lower silurian system, extending from
near the western shores of Lake Michigan, and sweeping over all the
lower half of Minnesota, westward and upward along the valley of the
great Red and Assinniboin Rivers to the north, marking one of the most
prolific grain growing belts on the continent, if not in the world.
While this limestone underlying the surface is valuable for the purposes
heretofore named, it performs a still greater service to mankind in
having contributed much of those qualities which have given in certain
departments of agriculture, highest prominence to the State.

St. Paul is both the political and commercial capital of Minnesota, and
must always remain such without doubt, though it does not occupy a
central geographical position, still it is the practical centre of the
commonwealth, made such by the enterprise of her people in extending the
system of railways in all directions, with this point as a pivotal
centre. There are already seven important roads[A] radiating from this
city, either completed or in rapid course of construction, giving at the
present time a total of about seven hundred miles of finished road, over
which daily or more trains run, and all within the boundaries of the
State. Other lines beginning and ending elsewhere, yet likewise in the
State, are not included, of course, in this consideration. These roads
penetrate already, or will when completed, the principal centres of
trade and agriculture lying in the Northwest.

Daily communication is already had by rail with the cities of Chicago,
Milwaukee, and Duluth, and in the near future another, and, perhaps, in
some respects; the most important link of all, that connecting St. Paul
with Omaha and the Union Pacific Railway, known as the St. Paul and
Sioux City Road. This line traverses the most fertile district in the
State, as well as the most populous, following up the rich valley of the
Minnesota to Mankato, where it leaves the river, holding a southwest
direction for Sioux City in Iowa. The road is now completed as far as
Madelia, one hundred and twelve miles from St. Paul, leaving a gap of
about one hundred and fifty miles to be finished in order to make the
proposed connection with the great central trunk road to the Pacific
coast. We do not think that there is a single township of poor land
along its entire route. On the other hand, speaking from personal
observation, we know that the land is uniformly above the average in
fertility, productiveness, and beauty.

Another, a more recent link of road, binding the city to the northeast
and east as firmly as does the other to the southwest, is that known as
the Lake Superior and Mississippi Road, reaching one hundred and fifty
miles to the young city of Duluth, standing at the head of the great
lakes, whence cheap transportation to the Atlantic seaboard may be had
for all the products of the Northwest.

Then there are the two lines in progress, which, with the one already
running, will make three routes to Chicago and Milwaukee. By the present
one, the St. Paul and Milwaukee, a whole day is consumed in making the
journey, while by either of the others, sixteen hours only will be
required. This saving of time will insure to the new routes a prosperous
career. One of these new roads, the St. Paul and Chicago, nearly an
air-line, is already done as far as Red Wing. This road follows the
river to Winona, where it crosses, thence to Madison, making connection
with a completed line to Chicago. When done, this will be the most
desirable _all rail_ route from the latter city to St. Paul and the
principal towns along the river in Minnesota.

These truly great enterprises, of which St. Paul is the centre, form a
just commentary on the prescience and industry of her people, who, while
watchful of their own, do not forget the general interest of all,
thereby giving to individual life a zest and recompense which mark only
the highest and best purposes of our race.

Thus we see the iron arms of this possible future capital of the nation
reaching out in all directions from this central seat of empire, binding
firmly to it the great resources and vast wealth of the outlying and
now tributary country, which as yet is only in the alphabet of its

Time was when a visit to St. Paul was accounted an era in the life of
the traveller, since its remoteness and general inaccessibility involved
a special journey; but now, few fail to make the tour while passing
through the West, since both the facilities and pleasures are so great.

To stand at the head of two thousand miles of steamboat navigation along
the line of a single river is in itself, were there no city, an
inspiration. And when we contemplate that more than ten thousand miles
of inland navigation attaches to this great river and its tributaries,
at the head of which stands the beautiful city of St. Paul, we do not
marvel at the dreams of splendor and of power already haunting the
thinking population of this vast interior valley. A few brief years and
the sceptre of political empire will have passed forever into the hands
of this people without question, and ere long thereafter we confidently
predict that the seat of government will surely follow. We know that the
population along the Atlantic coast deride this idea; and, while having
shared heretofore like opinions with them, yet, on reflection, we
believe the child is born who will live to see this an accomplished


[A] We have counted the Pacific Main Line and the Branch Line as
separate roads, and likewise have assumed, that the Milwaukee and St.
Paul terminates here. These roads are now owned by the North Pacific
Railroad Company.



The climatic divisions of the country.--Periodical rains.--Prevailing
winds of the continent.--Changes of temperature.--Consumption in warm
climates.--Cold, humid atmospheres.--What climate most desirable for the
consumptive.--The dry atmosphere of the interior.--Dry winds of the
interior.--Table of rain-fall of the whole country.

Until a comparatively recent date the climate of the continent was held,
by all of the more learned in matters of physical geography and climatic
law, to have but one general characteristic; but these conclusions have
been found to be utterly erroneous, and now it is known to be
susceptible of division into three great and entirely distinct areas,
each being highly marked, and leaving, on these various surfaces,
peculiar evidence of their existence.

Instead of an _oceanic_ climate prevailing over the entire continent, it
is found to have but very narrow limits along the Pacific coast of the
United States, being broken entirely from the interior by the elevated
mountain ranges, conforming to them throughout their entire extent, and
having a sweep from near the thirty-sixth parallel to Sitka and the
Aleutian Islands, away to the extreme northwest.

The second division embraces the great interior basin lying between the
ranges of one hundred and twenty degrees and ninety-two degrees west
longitudes, having a general trend from the southwest, at San Diego, to
Hudson's Bay in British America, in the northeast. This vast district is
paralleled by that of the interior climate and character of the
continent of Asia in its elevation, aridity, and great extent, and may
be known as the true continental or Asiatic climate of the United
States. It is on the edge of this district, and visibly under its
influence, that the State of Minnesota, for the most part, lies. But we
pass, for the present, to the brief consideration of the third grand
division, embracing the entire country east of a line drawn from near
Central Texas to the centre of Wisconsin, including the immediate region
surrounding all the great lakes. Here we have an association of elements
constituting a highly variable climate, which prevails over all its
surface at all seasons, with remarkable uniformity. The wide range in
both vegetable and animal life over this area is one of its chief
distinguishing characteristics, partaking of the semi-tropical on the
one hand, with a low winter temperature on the other, but traversing
neither range so far as to prove directly destructive in its effects.
All over this eastern area are scattered lakes and rivers, with an
ocean boundary line, and uniform forest ranges with a great variety of
deciduous trees known to the temperate and sub-tropical latitudes; and
it is quite remarkable to note that some of the latter forms extend in
their acclimation to near the northern boundary lines of the Union,
while the pine, walnut, and chestnut may be found at or near the extreme
southern limits.

In all of these three grand divisions of climate, however, exceptional
localities exist where there is a marked nonconformity to the prevailing
characteristics. The peninsula of Florida is such an exception, owing to
its peculiar location, and the great humidity of its atmosphere during a
considerable fraction of the year. Here we have a fully developed season
of periodical rains, beginning usually in June and ending in the latter
part of September. The winter is the dry season, being contrary to the
general rule applying to tropical and sub-tropical areas, and forms,
with the mild temperature, the principal ground for the reputation which
that State has as a resort for special classes of invalids.[B]

The sudden and extreme variations of temperature in this eastern
climatic tract, whether from local disturbing causes, as is not
unfrequently the case, or otherwise, are usually accompanied by cold
draughts of air, chilling and generating all manner of ills, of which
rheumatism and consumption are the separate and highest types.

While it is generally understood that the prevailing winds of the whole
continent embraced within the limits of the United States are uniformly
from the west, still, over this eastern division, counter-winds of a
lower character disturb, modify, and elevate the course of this great
westerly current, giving rise to the exceeding variability of the
surface winds, which, as is well known, may blow within the brief space
of twenty-four hours from all directions of the compass, at almost any
time and point whatsoever.

Changes of temperature, while essential in some circumstances to health,
may be, if of a certain specific character, infinitely damaging, and
such are the cold humid winds from the northeast with easterly
inclinations. These are the dreadful scourges of all the Atlantic slope
above the Carolinas, and there is scarce any portion east of the
Mississippi Valley free from their occasional visitation. In the extreme
southern limits, along the Gulf, and on the Peninsular State, the
poison, so to speak, of this wind, is so far modified by the greater
temperature of these localities as measurably to disarm it of danger;
yet, even in those latitudes, it is to be (during and after a prolonged
storm) avoided by all, and especially weak and enfeebled constitutions.

The cases of consumption found in these warmer climates have been cited
as disproving the heretofore accepted theory that this disease was
limited in range to the middle and eastern portion of the Union; and it
has been further assumed that the liability to its attack was as great
there as at any point further north.

These conclusions have little foundation in fact, as is well known by
all who have taken pains to investigate the question with that
thoroughness which the subject demands. The catalogue of ills belonging
to all warm climates is not only long enough, but likewise sufficiently
dreadful, without adding to it that scourge, which is the child of the
northeast winds, with its home in the changeful temperature along the
upper Atlantic coast. It is quite true that cases occur in even tropical
districts, but they are the stray offspring of some unusual departure of
the cold and humid northerly currents. It must not, however, be taken as
a sequence of this proposition that any and all warm countries would
prove a sovereign balm and remedy; but, that there are a few localities
of this condition in temperature, where patients of the class under
consideration may reside with positive advantage, and not unfrequent
restoration to health follow, we both believe and know.

But there is so great a liability to contract some of the many fatal
febrile, and other diseases of hot countries, together with their
usually excessive humid character and greatly enervating effects,
especially on those who have been born and reared in cooler and higher
latitudes, that it comes to be a serious question for consideration
whether the chances of remedy hoped for in a residence at such places is
not more to be dreaded than the disease itself.

In what direction, then, can the invalid turn with any immediate or
ultimate hope of either relief or a permanent cure? We answer, that any
place where a dry, equable climate can be found, all other things being
equal, will give the desired relief and probable cure, if resorted to in
season, and if certain hygienic regulations be carefully and
persistently observed. The next question is, have we a climate answering
this important requirement, and, at the same time, outside of the range
of epidemics and fatal fevers; easily accessible, and affording, when
reached, the necessary comforts and aids incidental to a restoration? To
this we have an affirmative reply to give, coupled with some
modifications, and point to the Central climatic division of the
continent as possessing, in its dry elastic atmosphere and generally
equable temperature, the requisite desideratum.

Minnesota lies within this division, and, while upon the outer edge, is
still markedly under the influence of the prevailing climate which
distinguishes the whole of this middle area. Other sections within its
limits there may be, and, indeed, doubtless are, just as favorable, if
not more so, than is that of Minnesota, but they are lacking either in
facilities for reaching them, or in the needed comforts, and perhaps in
the commonest necessities which are absolute in all cases,--a wholesome
diet being one of the great essentials to recuperation.

Minnesota affords, of course, all of these aids in large abundance, and
is likewise quite easy of access, thus answering, in these particulars
at least, the ends desired.

It may now be well to examine the chief characteristics belonging to
this central climatic division, on the northeastern edge of which lies
the State under special consideration. We have already observed that the
prevailing and prominent winds of the continent blow uniformly from the
Pacific toward the Atlantic coast, having a slight northerly tendency.
It is important that this fact be kept in mind. This wind is constantly
sweeping across the North Pacific Ocean, by which it is tempered and
ladened with a vast amount of moisture, which is borne to the shores of
the continent, and, but for the elevated mountain ranges along the whole
of that coast, would be quite evenly distributed over the interior,
giving to all of the western and central area such an abundance of
fertilizing rains as the western half of the continent of Europe now
possesses, and to which this would then be in climate almost an exact
counterpart. But instead we have only a slender breadth of territory
answering to the oceanic climate of Western Europe, embracing that which
lies between the Pacific shores and the Sierra and Rocky Mountain
ranges. Within this belt is precipitated nearly all of the moisture
contained in the atmosphere. The warm, humid westerly winds, driven
against the lofty and cool mountain sides, have their moisture suddenly
and rapidly condensed, and the rain-fall on their western slope is found
by measurement to be prodigious, reaching as high as sixty-five cubic
inches for the year, being equal in quantity to that falling in many
tropical districts, and greatly exceeding that of any other portion of
the United States. These mountains have a determining influence on the
climate, both of the coast and of that in the interior. They act on the
clouds as they sweep against and over them, like a comb, extracting all
possible moisture, leaving a cool, elastic, and arid continental
atmosphere for this central area under present review. The effect is at
once pronounced and everywhere visible. Less than two degrees of
longitude _east_ of these mountain ranges there is but about (taking the
whole line from the thirty-fifth parallel to the northern boundary) an
average fall of seven and a half cubic inches of rain, a difference of
over fifty-five cubic inches within the year, in districts separated by
less than one hundred miles in a straight line from each other. The
consequence is, that, while in one there is a luxuriant growth in all
kinds of vegetation, in the other barren plains (destitute of all except
the lowest forms of vegetable life) exist, with a gradual but slow
return, as the eastern course of the winds are followed, to that normal
condition which prevails in districts where an abundant supply of
moisture is furnished. This is not fully found till the western limit of
the third climatic division is reached, where again we see on all hands
a general distribution of rivers and forests over the whole of this
area, with copious rains at all seasons, and humid and cool conditions
of the atmosphere, following each other in rapid alternations; producing
what we have seen fit to call the Variable climatic district, embracing
the whole eastern half of the continent.

The extreme high temperature of the interior division equals that of
points lying a dozen degrees south in other longitudes, and the
desiccated winds from the west, as they blow over this parched and
heated surface, have their aridity rather than their humidity increased,
as would be the case in other circumstances; and not till they reach
within perhaps five hundred miles of the eastern boundary of this
continental division do they increase in humidity, as indicated by the
rain-fall, which rises in quantity from the low minimum of seven and a
half cubic inches per annum in the "great basin," and fifteen on the
"great plains," to about twenty in Dakota territory and twenty-five in
Minnesota, the eastern limit of this continental climate.

The effect of these dry winds on the humidity of the atmosphere in
Minnesota is unquestioned and demonstrable by the records kept of the
various governmental posts over the whole country. In contrast, the
amount of rain falling annually in this State is shown by these
statistics to be much below that of any lying east of the Mississippi,
in the variable-climatic district; and, indeed, below that of every
other in the entire Union, excepting Nebraska, which averages about the
same amount of rain-fall, though without the same amount of dryness and
elasticity, which are such notable features in the atmosphere of the
former State.

The mean annual amount of rain falling in New England is about
forty-three inches, nearly double that of Minnesota, exhibiting the vast
difference in the humidity of the two localities, and this, in
connection with the cold easterly winds before referred to as prevailing
there at intervals, together with the severe changes (and which, it
should not be forgotten, add to the quantity of moisture), may be
ascribed the primal cause of all pulmonic diseases.

It should not be understood, however, that the _quantity_ of moisture
precipitated in any given district determines of itself the prevalence
or non-prevalence of phthisic complaints; not at all, for we see in
Florida the rain-fall is very great, and as much exceeds that of New
England as the latter does that of Minnesota, and consumption has no
home on the peninsula of Florida. Why it has not, inheres in this fact,
that the climate does not, or rarely, experience any of those violent
and chilling changes of temperature that are almost constantly going on,
especially in the fall, winter, and spring months, and which do the
fatal work of death. But, some one says, the northeast winds reach
Florida, and why do not the inhabitants suffer from it? For the reason
that they are greatly changed in character, becoming mild and only
pleasantly cool in temperature, offering no shock as a rule; and really
the northeast trades, which almost daily blow, are the invigorating and
healthful winds, sweeping away the miasma of the hot season, cooling the
atmosphere, and preserving equability throughout the year. Then there
are other matters; the drainage qualities of the soil, which is so great
on that peninsula; then, too, is the distribution of the falling rain,
whether it is filtered slowly through all the year, keeping things
constantly drowned out, or in a state of flabbiness, or whether it is
mainly confined to a single season or an inconsiderable fraction of the
whole year, as in Florida. These become important inquiries, as all have
a bearing on the question of the _healthfulness_ of climates.

We have stated the rain-fall to be less in Minnesota than in any other
State in the entire Union, with one exception; and while this is true,
it is still great enough for all agricultural uses, coming chiefly in
the summer months, at a time when the crops are growing; and, by the
middle of September, as a rule, the quantity has fallen off to a very
low mean, accompanied by that elastic, invigorating atmosphere for which
the State is so justly famed. This season of charming weather continues,
with little interruption, only accompanied by a gradual diminishing
scale of thermometric registration, up to the advent of winter, and even
then the moisture falling in snow is less than is generally supposed or

Since these matters are of vital character in determining the salubrity
of the climate of this State, we append the following table, both for
the purpose of comparison with other places and definiteness concerning

This table gives a sweep of country from ocean to ocean, and exhibits
the rain-fall of the three climatic divisions very faithfully. The great
quantity precipitated at Astoria, in Oregon, is observed, where the
OCEANIC climate prevails, with the mountain barriers limiting its extent
inland; while, at Port Laramie, in Wyoming Territory, is an average
representation of the whole interior district possessing the dry and
elastic CONTINENTAL climate, in which lies the State of Minnesota. The
other portions of the table give a more extended view of the VARIABLE
climate, covering the eastern area as previously defined.

_Average Annual Fall of Water (rain and snow, given in inches) for a
Series of Years, as ascertained from Official Sources_.

Fort Snelling, Minn.| 1.92 | 6.61 | 10.92 | 5.98 | 25.43
Fort Ridgely, " | 4.11 | 7.29 | 9.29 | 4.83 | 25.52
Astoria, Oregon | --- | --- | --- | --- | 65.00
Fort Laramie, Wy. | 1.63 | 8.69 | 5.70 | 3.96 | 19.98
Fort Crawford, Wis. | 4.00 | 7.63 | 11.87 | 7.90 | 31.40
Fort Gratiot, Mich. | 5.75 | 8.02 | 9.99 | 8.86 | 32.62
New Harmony, Ind. | 12.29 | 10.51 | 12.79 | 7.26 | 42.85
Cincinnati, Ohio | 11.15 | 12.14 | 13.70 | 9.90 | 46.89
St. Louis, Missouri | 6.94 | 12.30 | 14.14 | 8.94 | 42.32
Chicago, Illinois | --- | --- | --- | --- | ---
Philadelphia, Penn. | 10.76 | 9.81 | 11.93 | 9.84 | 42.34
Lambertville, N.J. | 9.67 | 11.25 | 12.15 | 11.59 | 44.09
Fredonia, New York | 6.82 | 7.24 | 10.45 | 12.04 | 36.55
Utica, " " | 8.72 | 9.26 | 12.83 | 9.76 | 40.57
Albany, " " | 8.30 | 9.79 | 12.31 | 10.27 | 40.67
Brooklyn, " " | 9.83 | 11.75 | 11.43 | 10.35 | 43.36
Providence, R.I. | 9.44 | 10.45 | 9.66 | 10.50 | 40.05
New Bedford, Mass. | 10.42 | 10.67 | 9.18 | 10.76 | 41.03
Worcester, " | 11.85 | 10.89 | 10.71 | 13.51 | 46.96
Cambridge, " | 9.89 | 10.85 | 11.17 | 12.57 | 44.48
Hanover, N.H. | 9.10 | 9.90 | 11.40 | 10.50 | 41.00
Portland, Maine | 10.93 | 12.11 | 10.28 | 11.93 | 45.25

The fall of snow has been in this statement reduced to a water basis,
allowing, as is the usual custom, ten inches of snow for one of water.
This calculation is not entirely reliable for all points; as, at the
extreme southern snow-line, a less, while a larger amount is required
for a more northerly district--say about eleven inches to make one of
water in Minnesota. This would give a depth of about two and a half
feet (snow) over the surface of the State for the entire winter months,
while in Central New York--to which in mean annual temperature Minnesota
parallels--the depth of all water falling, for the same season, would
(in snow) amount to full five feet, or double that of the State under


[B] For further particulars of Florida climate, see _A Winter in
Florida_, by the author of this volume, published by Messrs. Wood &



The atmosphere of Minnesota.--Its dryness.--Falling snow.--Equability of
temperature.--Rain-fall for spring.--The constitutional character of the
climate.--The lakes and rivers of the State.--The northeast
winds.--Where the northeasters begin.--Their general direction and
limit.--The atmospheric basin of Iowa.--Neglect of meteorology.--Its
importance to the country.

The atmosphere in Minnesota in the winter is like a wine, so
exhilarating is its effects on the system; while its extreme dryness and
elasticity prevents any discomfort from the cold which is such a bugbear
to many. The extreme cold does not last but for a few days, and should
the invalid choose to be domiciled during this brief interval, no great
harm would come; but we apprehend that, once there, they could not be
kept in-doors in consequence of it. Why, laboring men in the lumber
districts to the north of St. Paul perform their work without overcoats,
and frequently, and indeed commonly, without a coat of any kind, simply
in their shirt-sleeves; nor need this seem incredible, as in a dry, cold
climate the body maintains a much greater amount of animal heat, and if
exercise is had, a profuse perspiration may be easily induced, and a
fine glow of health inspired; with the extremities warm, sensitive, and
throbbing with life.

We once spent the winter on the island of Prince Edward, lying in the
Gulf of St. Lawrence. This island is quite narrow, and between one and
two hundred miles in length; all the northerly winds having a tremendous
sweep over it, and the mercury in winter creeps down for a few days to a
point where it is frozen stiff. On such occasions we found it far less
inconvenient to go out, indeed, it was not an inconvenience at all, but
rather a positive pleasure; daily walks and fishing through the ice gave
constant amusement. But when the mercury was above zero, with the wind
from any quarter, coming damp and chilling, a feeling of discomfort
would drive you to shelter. The raw, damp wind off of the surrounding
seas being a natural conductor of both animal and electrical heat
rapidly carries of the vital warmth of the body to the destruction of
life. In illustration of this, and as giving greater force to the
practical experience of men everywhere, we are induced to quote the
statement made by Dr. Kane, that often when the mercury was congealed,
both he and his men found it not at all unpleasant, and by moderate
walking were able to keep entirely comfortable; while, at and above
zero, with a brisk wind blowing they suffered greatly.

Let us look fairly in the face this winter temperature in Minnesota,
and see how it compares with that of Central New York. The tabular
statement below is from official records.[C]

_The Mean Winter Temperature at St. Paul and Utica_.


St. Paul 16 deg. 1' 45 deg. 6' 70 deg. 6' 45 deg. 9' 44 deg. 6'
Utica 24 deg. 5' 44 deg. 5' 66 deg. 5' 47 deg. 3' 45 deg. 7'

The difference in range for the winter between the two points, is a
fraction over eight degrees in favor of Utica, while the mean annual
range is but one degree and a fraction higher than the yearly average at
St. Paul. There can be no doubt in our minds, that the cold of winter is
more trying to all classes at Utica than it is at St. Paul; and, that a
greater amount of warm clothing is necessary to maintain an equal
feeling of comfort, at the former, than is required at the latter place,
notwithstanding the mercury ranges through the three months of winter at
an average of eight degrees less at St. Paul. The reason is found in the
fact of a more humid atmosphere existing at Utica, and, indeed, at all
points in the variable-climatic district, whether north or south of
either the thermal lines or latitudes in which Minnesota rests.

"There is no rain falling during the winter months in the State as a
rule, the temperature being too cold, while the snow accumulates
gradually, falling in the finest of flakes, and light as down itself.
The average monthly snow-fall of the three winter months reduced to
water, is but a little over half an inch, or about six inches of snow
per month. A uniform line of low temperature--averaging near sixteen
degrees, unbroken by thaws except under the occasional warm glare of a
noonday sun--usually keeps this thin covering on the ground all winter
so dry, that the deerskin moccasins, which many persons habitually wear,
are scarcely moistened the season through. There are occasional upward
oscillations of temperature; and, once in a series of years, a thaw in
January or February; but these are rare occurrences. Rain has not fallen
in winter but once in many years. The whole winter is a radiant and
joyous band of sunny days and starlight nights. This inaugurates the
carnival season when sleighing and merrymaking parties in both town and
country form one unbroken round of pleasure."

The advantages of this winter season is that, while a cold climate, it
still admits of the invalid taking constant daily exercise with an
entire freedom from liability to "catch cold," the system freed from
sudden shocks incident to the coquetting climate of the East; the lungs
and whole body strengthened and braced by the tonic effect of this
continental climate.

"It is the most normal climate on the continent. No other is so
exquisitely symmetrical in its entire annual development. In no other
are the transitions of temperature and moisture so completely in harmony
with nature, so accommodated to the laws of organic life and growth.
Thus the entire physical organism of Minnesota is, so to speak,
emblematical of the * * * relations which attach to its geographical

The advance of spring does not, here, bring those unending floods and
winds which drown men out and blow the universe to tatters, as is the
case in New England and other areas lying eastward.

The months of March and April rack very low in their rain-fall in
comparison with any point situated along the same thermal lines; while
May is scarce up to the average, but yet sufficient to supply the seeds
and grasses with all the moisture required.

For the purpose of exactness the following table is annexed, giving a
view of the question and illustrating it far better than any discussion
can hope to do.

_Mean Water Precipitation For Spring (in inches)_


St. Paul 1.30 2.14 3.17 6.61
Utica 2.75 3.17 3.34 9.26
Providence 3.26 3.66 3.53 10.45

This furnishes a most striking commentary on this particular season for
the localities named, and warrants the statement that the first
two-thirds of it can be considered a continuation of the dry climate
which we have now traced from about the middle of September to the first
of May, a period of seven and one-half months, in which the rain-fall is
but a third of the entire quantity precipitated throughout the whole
year; while that of the entire year, even, is seen to be but a trifle
over the half of that falling over any portion of the variable district,
occupying so large a portion of the whole United States.

It is an astonishing development, and would be scarcely credible, but
for the array of actual facts and figures, through a long series of
years, by persons entirely unbiased, and who in the employment of the
general government had no other ends to serve but that of accuracy.
Previous favorable reports had gained much reputation for the State, but
it seemed to lack official backing, until the searching in the published
files of the War Department set the topic at rest, and proved the
climate of this State out of that division to which the great valley of
the Mississippi had been assigned, and to which the State of Minnesota
had been thought, heretofore, to belong.

The great isothermal lines, beginning along the Atlantic coast at the
fortieth, forty-first, and forty-second latitudes--with their initial
points between Long Island and the northern boundary line of
Massachusetts--sweep westward with an upward tendency, striking
Minnesota at the forty-fifth parallel (St. Paul), when a sharp curve to
the north distinguishes their course, thence bearing away gradually
westward along the valleys of the Red and Saskatchawan Rivers to the
Pacific Ocean.

If there are any doubts by our readers as to the continental character
of the climate of Minnesota, let them answer how it is that this sharp
curve of the thermal line happens in its westward course just on the
frontier of that State. And likewise the reason of the arid climate
prevailing for nearly three-fourths of the year, so unlike that for a
thousand miles eastward or southward of it.

Two-thirds of the entire fall of water for the year (whether snow or
rain) descends during the summer, with the addition of a part of May and
September. The quantity is a trifle over that in parts of Michigan,
while much less than the average of all points east or south. With
regard to that of Central New York at Utica, a type of the eastern area,
and previously referred to--it is two inches less. Thus the summer,
while not a dry one, fortunately, is below the mean of the variable

It would be a wrong conclusion should any one decide that the summer was
lacking in those qualities of atmosphere which so happily characterizes
other portions of the year. True, there is a diminution of aridity, but
no disappearance, and the effect on the invalid is beneficial and

The humidity of the atmosphere is not always determined by the
rain-fall. There may be considerable water precipitated during a single
season, and the air of the locality be, before and after the rains, dry
and elastic, as the case at Santa Fe, in New Mexico, and at other points
which might be mentioned. Among these is that of Minnesota. Its
geographical position and physical structure is such as to insure these
elements in large measure, even for the climate of her summers.

If the quantity of rain and snow falling at all seasons in a given
district depended on itself for the supply, then the amount of water
precipitated would, were the winds out of consideration, be determined
by the amount of lake, river, and ocean surface within its own
boundaries. In this event Minnesota would among the States occupy the
very highest place on the scale,--with, perhaps, a single
exception,--since the whole face of the commonwealth is dotted all over
with lakes, sliced with rivers, and skirted in addition by a great
inland sea.

To many who travel over the State it seems a marvel that the atmosphere
should have any elasticity or any tonic properties.

It is, however, known that countries are usually dependent, for the
beneficent rains falling over them, on oceans quite remote, where the
sun, in its tropical splendor and power, lifts high in air immense
volumes of water in a state of evaporation, which, borne on the "wings
of the wind," speeds rapidly away to supply the drying rivers and
fountains of the globe. This aerial pathway supplies the link in the
great circuit by which all the waters of all the oceans pass over our
heads, returning again under our feet to their natural home.

Of course the water area of all sections of the temperate latitudes
contribute something to the precipitation; yet it is but a fractional
part of the whole, and quite inconsiderable. Still its influence is
sufficient to make it observable near large seas like our own inland
system, where the quantity falling is, in the cooler portions of the
year, increased in consequence of the then higher temperature of the
water of the lakes over that of the adjacent land districts. In summer,
the only effect is to increase the humidity of the atmosphere and
frequency of rains, without adding to the quantity. This phenomenon is
seen on the shores of all the lakes, and especially in the Lake Superior
region. But this influence does not extend westward to exceed the
distance of, we should say, fifty miles, and does not consequently
effect to any important degree the climate of Minnesota, except the
outlying rim described. The small lakes and rivers do not contribute
much to the precipitation of rain within the State boundaries. They may
add slightly to that of the lake district to the eastward, whither their
moisture is borne by the southwesterly and westerly currents. They do
undoubtedly have an influence on the temperature, modifying that of the
winter very much, and in this respect are valuable as well as beautiful.

The southerly winds, and those having a slight westerly tendency,
prevailing a portion of the summer, do not bring hither much of
moisture, though at their outset they are heavily ladened with it, as it
is borne across the Gulf, in a southwesterly direction, to the open
valley of the Mississippi, where, coming in contact with the edge of the
great westerly winds, and broken probably somewhat by the elevated
district of Mexico and by the foot-hills of the Rocky Mountains, which
extend to the northern boundaries of Texas, this humid wind drives,
unresisted by any vertical obstruction, up the valley of the "Great
River," shedding on either hand its waters profusely; but their force
and character, in this long march, become spent, and they add only their
proportionate amount of rain to the Minnesota annual fall, while the
intermediate districts are chiefly dependent on them.

The northeast winds of spring and autumn, which sweep at times half
across the continent, usually begin at a low point along the Atlantic
coast--driving sometimes furiously, and always persistently, its
hurried, chilling current inland,--is baffled by this southwesterly
current of the Gulf, and always, sooner or later, turned, as it moves up
the coast and interior by the overpowering and underlying continental
winds which drive it back, bringing these northeasterly storms to us,
nearly always from a southwest quarter. We enlarge upon this class of
rain-storms for the purpose of showing, though imperfectly, their
non-prevalence over the State of Minnesota. This is important if it can
be, even but partially, established; since it is this particular class
of storms and winds, last referred to, that are to be so much avoided
and to which can be traced the initial point of most pulmonic troubles.

These storms from the northeast may begin in Texas, their course being
north and eastward; as that by the time they reach so northerly a point
as New York, their westward limit may not exceed St. Louis; and, in
further illustration, when Quebec feels the force of the storm, Chicago
is at its extreme western limit. This supposed course will convey the
general idea of the track of a northeaster when it envelops the whole
variable-climatic district of the Union. There is a singular eddy known
to all climatologists to exist in Iowa, where the annual precipitation
of water is great, exceeding that of all the surrounding States. There
has been no positive theory advanced, to our knowledge, explaining this
circumstance, but the mystery is solved, to our minds, quite clearly.
This eddy makes the key-point of contact of the humid Gulf winds with
the cool winds of the westerly current, and likewise being the
northwestern terminal point of the course of the great northeasters,
the contact being the cause of the excess in precipitation. We were
fortunate, while visiting last autumn this special wet district of Iowa,
to experience one of these triangular storms. We were at Dubuque while
the wind was blowing gently from the south-southwest, with low
scattering clouds, and before night it began to thicken and rain, while,
in the night, the wind shifted to the east, blowing the rain briskly
before it. This continued a part of the following forenoon, when, taking
the train west to Rockford, northwest of Dubuque, we reached nearly the
edge of the easterly storm, which had been here simply a drizzling rain.
The next day the rain had ceased, the wind had shifted to the northwest,
rapidly drying the earth, and the clouds, both of the upper and lower
strata, were all driving hurriedly east-southeast. We left the following
day for Fort Dodge and Sioux City. At the former place they had had a
slight shower only, with shifting winds; while at Sioux City not a
particle of rain had fallen, the roads being not only dry but quite
dusty. This was not a merely local storm, but was the only great
easterly one covering any extent of territory and time, answering to the
equinoctial, which visited the United States during last autumn.

This special limit of storms, this eddy of the winds in Iowa, deviates
more or less in the district assigned to it, and, at times, some of
these northeasters undoubtedly blow over Minnesota, but they are few,
and much modified in kind and character. The elevation of the State over
other portions of the great valley south of it adds something probably
in determining the outline of the Iowa basin of precipitation.

The range of the thermometer in the hot season is, in Minnesota, above
that of places occupying the same lines of latitude; this is caused, in
part, by the arid continental winds and by a less cloud-obstructed
sunshine, but the heat is not correspondingly oppressive with that of

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