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HISTORY OF NEBRASKA.
Nebraska is situated about the center of the United States, as far removed as possible from the oceans, and very far away from the Gulf. It stretches from the foot-hills of the Rocky Mountains to the Missouri River, gently sloping toward the east. Two river valleys, the Platte and the Niobrara, extend the length of the state from west to east. The Platte occupies all the middle section, and by its very gentle slope forms a great highway of travel to the mountains. It is evident
that this feature of the surface of the OF THE state had a great deal to do with its early
history. If the valley of the Platte River had been in Kansas or in North Dakota, the subject of freighting would not be of such special interest to us as it is. The period of Nebraska history from 1845 to 1870 is much concerned with the travel across the plains of explorers, missionaries, gold hunters, Mormons, and settlers, and the movements of these were very largely determined by the fact that the Platte Valley was the best route to the mountains. Long before the year 1800 the traders had found this convenient way of reaching the mountains, and were making trails that afterwards grew to be
broad highways, reaching from the fording places of the Missouri to the Rockies. By careful study it will be seen that the position of valleys and rivers has caused many of our cities and villages to be placed where they now are.
The character of the surface of any country has much to do with the way it is settled, and it should be a matter of interest to every student to see how far this is true of his own home.
A still greater influence upon the people of any state is its climate. It is not always easy to tell
just what that is, but it is always possible
to tell something about the effect. By climate is meant the combined conditions of temperature, rainfall, winds and storms, moisture, etc. It is not necessary here to explain, for example, why the wind blows so much of the time over the broad and unobstructed plains between British Columbia and the Gulf of Mexico. That belongs to the “ Physical Geography of Nebraska”. But it is important, in studying the history of Nebraska, to see that the constant stirring of the air has more or less effect upon people who live here. To study out what this effect is, one must gather a great deal of data from people who have lived in a different climate.
Uncertainty of rainfall in some of the western portions of Nebraska has affected the population
in several ways. New settlements have
not been made rapidly, and in some localities population has much decreased by the de