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 complaints.

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 attractions.



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 habits.



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 continent.

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 attractions.

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 below.

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 intermediate.

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 returning.

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 skies.



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 life.

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 fame.

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 useful.

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 to


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 trade.

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 rivers.

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 inappropriate.

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 town.

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 development.

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 fact.


[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 believed.

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.

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.

PLACES. WINTER. SPRING. SUMMER. AUTUMN. YEAR. 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 consideration.


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



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 position."

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 district.

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 decided.

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.

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