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Minnesota; Its Character and Climate Likewise Sketches of Other Resorts Favorable to Invalids; Together With Copious Notes on Health; Also Hints to Tourists and Emigrants online

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


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


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







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

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

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

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

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

BROOKLYN, N.Y., 1871.




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



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



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



As seen from the deck of the steamer. - The pleasant surprise it gives
the visitor. - Impressions regarding new places. - The beauties of the
city. - The limestone caves. - Père 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.


CLIMATE - _continued_.

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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

It is always a pleasing reflection to the tourist, and a comforting one
to the invalid, to know that at least a portion of their journey may be
performed on board of a well-kept and convenient steamship. They
contrast so favorably with the dusty train, that we wonder the latter
are half as well patronized as they are, when the two means of
conveyance are running on parallel lines. But then we know very well
that the man of business and people in haste do that which saves most
time, regardless entirely of themselves, and more frequently of their

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Online LibraryLedyard BillMinnesota; Its Character and Climate Likewise Sketches of Other Resorts Favorable to Invalids; Together With Copious Notes on Health; Also Hints to Tourists and Emigrants → online text (page 1 of 12)