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General View of the North Central States 99

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GENERAL VIEW OF THE NORTH CENTRAL STATES 99. Large population. — The twelve North Central States now have fifty times as many people as there were in all North America when Columbus first saw the new world. Why have so many people come to these states? Four reasons tell us why they have come: good climate, rich level soil, great mineral wealth, and splendid waterways.

1. Climate.—Few parts of the world have so good a climate as has the group of North Central States. It is healthful; it makes the people there feel like doing things. Everywhere the summers are Ikarm or hot, with enough rain to make good crops grow. The winters are cold, with many clear, crisp days. In the southern part, the snow rarely stays more than one or two weeks at a time. How is it in the northern part? (Sec. 93.) 2. Soil.—The soil on the great stretches of smooth, level prairies is as rich as any in the world for producing food. What has made the country here so level and the soil so rich, when many other regions are rocky or poor? Glaciers helped to make this land good. The greater part of this region was once, ages ago, covered by the ice of a huge glacier. It pushed down from the north and went nearly as far south as the Ohio and the Missouri Rivers. (See Fig. 64.) Like a giant scraper it scraped off the tops of hills and filled up the little valleys, thus making much of the country level, easy to plow, good for farming, and easy for travel. However, in some parts of Michigan and Wisconsin, the great ice mass left stones and dirt in irregular piles and ridges, so that the farmer cannot use this land as plowed fields. Southern Ohio and Indiana were not reached by the glacier, and many hills remain. With these exceptions, the soil is wonderfully fertile, and as a result very large crops are pro duced, as you have already learned.

3. Great Mineral Wealth.—These states have enormous beds of iron ore, rich mines of copper and a great deal of lead and zinc, rich fields of coal, and beds of clay. Petro

leum and natural gas, the best fuels in the world, are also found. (See Sec. 104.) We shall study about these in other parts of this book.

4. Railroads and Waterways.—The fourth reason for so many people in these states is that the level country is as good a place for railroad building as it is for farming. Railroads may easily pass over the low hills or flat places which divide the broad valleys from each other. Look at Figure 133 and see how many railroads have been built in this region.

And not only is the country good for railroad building but it also has splendid natural waterways. These are the Great Lakes and the rivers. Before the railroads were built, steamboats on the Mississippi and its many branches carried nearly all of the trade of the people living here. Boats on the Great Lakes carried the rest. The first towns to be built in these states were river and lake towns. Some freight is still carried on the rivers, but most of it goes by rail, or by lake boats.

The Great Lakes are often called our "Inland Seas". They are so large that a traveler by boat may be for several hours out of sight of land. Big steamboats are going all summer from the far ends of Lakes Superior and Michigan to the eastern end of Lake Erie. On account of the falls in the Niagara River they cannot pass directly down this river to Lake Ontario. But the Welland Canal has been dug, and through this boats pass from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario arid back again. The Erie Barge Canal, which runs from Buffalo to the Hudson River, lets boats go from the lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. Some of the lake boats are so big that they cannot go through these canals, and on that ac count their cargoes must be unloaded at some port on Lake Erie, even if the cargo is bound for Europe.

These goods, therefore, must go eastward either by train or by smaller boats that can pass through the canals. Therefore, big eleva tors have been built at Buffalo.

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