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watermen, also, of the party say, that the Pawnees and Ricaras give the same account of a similar noise made in the Black Mountains to the west of them.” These noises, however, seem to be owing to other causes.
3. Valleys. This portion of the United States includes that great region known as the Valley of the Mississippi. This valley is drained by the Mississippi, Missouri, and their numerous tributary streams, and may be considered as bounded north by the great lakes of British America ; east by the Appalachian Mountains ; south by the Gulf of Mexico, and west by the Rocky Mountains. The name of valley has little propriety is applied to it in the common signification, and denoting a tract of territory depressed in the central parts and rising by successive elevations towards the heights which inclose it. The Mississippi valley is a wide extent of level country, in which the various rivers inclosed between 2 chains of mountains 3,000 miles apart find a common centre, and discharge their waters into the sea by a single channel. This valley extends from the 29th to the 49th parallel of north latitude, and exhibits every variation of temperature, from the climate of Canada to that of Louisiana.
4. Rivers.' The Mississippi, which drains all the eastern and southern part of this country, rises in about 47° north latitude, in a number of head streams, and flows in a southerly course into the Gulf of Mexico, in latitude 29° 6' north. Its length by its windings is above 3,000 miles. Its waters are augmented by the immense stream of the Missouri from the West, which is both longer and carries a greater bulk of water than the Mississippi, yet loses its name in the inferior stream. Further onward it receives the Ohio from the east, and nearer the sea, it is further augmented by the addition of the great streams, the Arkansas and Red Rivers. In many places it deposits immense heaps of drift wood upon the sand-bars, which become as dangerous to the navigator as shoals and rocks at sea. These obstructions are called snags, sawyers, and planters. They
They are so common, that the steamboats upon the river are generally constructed with a species of water-tight forecastle, called a snag-room, by which precaution the bows
be stove in without sinking the vessel.* The Missouri, in regard to its length, may be considered the main stream of the Mississippi,
and, in connexion with that stream, it is the longest river in the world. From its source in the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico, its extreme length is 4,420 miles. It is navigable from the Great Falls to the sea, 4,000 miles. These great streams have been described under the head of United States.
5. Soil. The most extensive districts of fertile land in the United States are contained in this section, and the productiveness of the soil fits it for becoming the granary of the whole con
tinent. In the wild territories of the Scene on the Missouri.
west, are great tracts of sterile country. 6. Vegetable Productions. The largest tree of the western forest is the sycamore, or the button-wood of the Eastern States. It grows in every part of the Mississippi valley, and rises in the most graceful forms, with spreading lateral branches, and a trunk of brilliant white. It grows to the greatest perfection on the river alluvions, and the trunk is sometimes more than 15 feet in diameter. The yellow poplar is next in size, and is a very stately tree. The Indians, and supported by the opinion of some of the men * The attention of the government has lately been dibelonging to the Hudson Bay Company, confirms him in rected towards the removing of these numerous obstructhe belief, that they are the head waters of the river Bue- tions, and there is reason to hope, that the western waters naventura. To the north and northwest from the Grand will in a few years be completely cleared of them. SeveLake, the country is represented as abounding in salt. ral steamboats employed for this purpose, under the direcThe Indians west of the mountains are remarkably well tion of a “Superintendent of Snags,” have removed from disposed towards the citizens of the United States. The the channel of the Mississippi and Ohio, numerous snags, Eutaws and Flatheads are particularly so, and express a besides effecting other improvements in the navigation. great wish that the Americans should visit them frequently. Boats now pass safely down the Mississippi at night, an Most of the opinions and conjectures of General Ashley attempt never ventured upon formerly. have been confirmed by later travelers, and this part of the country has, since his first visit, been pretty thoroughly scoured by the American hunters.
bow-wood is a tree of extraordinary beauty, bearing a fruit like a large orange, most inviting in appearance, but nauseous to the taste. Its wood is heavy, durable, and elastic, and is used by the savages for bows ; it yields a dye like that of fustic. It grows only in Arkansas and the immediate neighborhood. The China tree has fine, long-spiked leaves of the most brilliant verdure; and in the flowering season the top is one great tuft of blossoms, in color and fragrance like the lilac ; the flowers are succeeded by reddish berries, upon which the robins feed, and are said to become stupefied by their narcotic qualities. This tree is much cultivated for ornament. The sugar-maple, dogwood, various kinds of oaks and walnuts, peccan, white locust, &c., are common here. The most remarkable of the shrubs in this region is the paw
paw, which bears a fruit like a cucumber, of a rich, yellow color, and tasting like a mixture of eggs, cream, sugar, and spice, —
, a natural custard. The myrtle wax, or bayberry, is common both to these and the Eastern States. Prairie plums, red mulberries, and wild rice, are natives of this region. Numerous varieties of grapes are found in the woods, and afford a luxuriant repast to the flocks of wild turkeys, that roam undisturbed in the unsettled regions.
7. Minerals. Lead is the most abundant of the metals in this country. The iron produced here is obtained mostly from the
neighborhood of the Appalachian mountains, Wild Turkeys.
but the ore abounds in Missouri and other States. Bituminous coal is also abundant in the same region. Limestone occurs in almost every part. Salt springs are found in innumerable places, and no part of the Mississippi valley is remote from a plentiful supply of salt.
8. Face of the Country. The immense prairies of the region constitute the most remarkable feature of the country. These are vast tracts, stretching as far as the eye can reach, totally destitute of trees, and covered with tall grass or flowering shrubs. Some have an undulating surface, and are called rolling prairies; these are the most extensive, and are the favorite resort of the bison. Here, without a tree, or a stream of water, the traveler may wander for days and discover nothing but a grassy ocean, bounded on all sides by the horizon. In the dry season the Indians set fire to the grass, and the wide conflagration which ensues, often surprises the bison, deer, and other wild animals, who are unable to escape from the fames, and are burned to death. The tracts denominated “ barrens” have generally an undulating surface, with hills in long and uniform ridges. The soil is commonly clayey, of a reddish or gray color, and is covered with a tall, coarse grass. Trees are thinly scattered about the surface. The most extensive of these districts are in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Illinois, and Missouri.
Much of this great country, especially the northern and western parts, remain to be explored. Of the region west of the Mississippi, hardly anything was known before the beginning of the present century, when the government of the United States despatched Captains Lewis and Clarke on an expedition of discovery. These officers, at the head of a large party well equipped, proceeded up the Missouri in boats to its source, crossed the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, and returned by the same course. The southern part was explored by an expedition under Lieutenant Pike ; and at a later period, Major Long, and other travelers, have visited different parts of the country.
9. Animals. * Although the Horse is not a native of America, yet the wild horses of the Western Country deserve particular notice here. Herds of these animals, the offspring of those which have escaped from the Spanish possessions in Mexico, are not uncommon on the extensive prairies, that lie to the west of the Mississippi. They were once numerous on the Kootannie lands near the northern sources of the Columbia, on the eastern side of the Rocky
Iountain Ridge, but of late years they have been almost exterminated in that quarter. They are not known to exist in a wild state to the northward of the 52d or 53d parallel of latitude. The Kootannies are acquainted with the Spanish-American mode of taking them with the lasso. Major Long mentions, that "horses are an object of particular hunt to the Osages. For the purpose of obtaining these animals, which in the wild state preserve all their fleetness, they go in large parties to the country of the Red Canadian River, where they are to be found in considerable numbers. When they discover a troop of horses, they distribute themselves into three parties, two of which take their stations at different and proper distances on the route, which, by previous experience, they know the horses will most probably take when endeavoring to escape. This arrangement being completed, the first party commences the pursuit in the direction of their colleagues, at whose position they at length arrive. The second party then continues the chase with fresh horses, and pursues the fugitives to the third party, which generally succeeds in so far running them down, as to noose and capture a considerable number of them.”
The domestic horse is an object of Hunting Wild Horscs.
great value to the Nomadic tribes of Indians, that frequent the extensive plains of the Saskatchawan and Missouri; for it is not only useful in transporting their tents and families from place to place, but one of the highest objects of the ambition of a young Indian is, to possess a good horse for the chase of the buffalo, an exercise of which he is passionately fond. To steal the horse of an adverse tribe is considered to be nearly as heroic an exploit as killing an enemy on the field of battle ;
and the distance to which they occasionalPrairie Dog
ly travel, and the privations they undergo, on their horse-stealing excursions, are almost incredible. An Indian who owns a horse, scarcely ever ventures to sleep after nightfall, but sits at the tent door, with the halter in one hand, and his gun in the other, the horse's fore legs being tied together with thongs of leather. Notwithstanding all this care, however, it often happens, that the hunter, suffering himself to be overpowered with sleep only for a few minutes, awakes from the noise made by the thief galloping off with the animal.
The native animals of this vast region have been particularly described under the head of North America ; it will only be necessary here to enumerate them. The bison, or American buffalo, is perhaps the most valuable of the wild animals of the west. The Rocky Mountain sheep and the Rocky Mountain goat, or bighorn, are con
fined to the remote recesses of the mounBadger.
tain. The wapiti, or American elk, and the Virginia deer, are found in the Western States, but the black-tailed or mule deer, the long
tailed deer, and the prong-horned antelope,
gopher, is found in the western districts.
The badger is common in the northeastern
cock of the plains, the sharp-tailed grouse,
and ruffed grouse. The passenger pigeon
darkens the air, and shakes the forest by its numbers. The turkey buzzard and the carrion crow, the raven, the swan, and the crane, the magpie, the jay, the mocking-bird, the whip-poor-will
, geese, ducks, &c., are to be added to the list. The fish of the rivers are numerous, and many of them are peculiar.
Whip-poor-will. 10. Inhabitants. The inhabitants are the descendants or natives of almost every European country, and of every Atlantic State. The destitute and oppressed population of Europe may here receive their share of the earth, the original patrimony of man. There are separate communities of French, Swiss, and Germans ; and there are many English, Scotch, and Irish citizens. Ohio is chiefly peopled from New England ; and Kentucky and Tennessee from Virginia and North Carolina.
The negroes constitute a considerable part of the population. They are held as slaves in all the States but Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois. But few Indians yet remain within the limits of the Western States. These are the Wyandotts, in Ohio, and the Chippewas and Ottawas, in Michigan. Within the Territories are the Menomonees and Chippewas in Wisconsin, the Winnebagoes, Iowas, Sauks and Foxes, and Sioux of Iowa. There are numerous others in the unsettled regions.
11. Dress. In a wide country, thinly settled, where a social life cannot be led as in towns, comfort and convenience are more studied than fashion, in dress. Generally the agricultural inhabitants of the West (which are a great proportion of the whole) are clothed in garments of their own manufacture, which are shaped without much reference to elegance or fashion. Some of the remote trappers and hunters dress partially in furs, and a hunting shirt, or frock, is not an uncommon garment, in some of the Western States.
12. Language. The English is by no means the universal language ; the French is common in the small French settlements of Illinois and Missouri. The peculiar circumstances of a people, always communicate some peculiarity to the language or forms of speech. It is remarked, that the people of the West speak rapidly, if not abruptly, and, that in some places they give utterance to
They have also coined several words, to suit a state of things not contemplated in any of the dictionaries, and their figures of speech are often drawn from their great inland navigation.* The English language, however, is in safe keeping in the West, where the unlawful words are infinitely less in number than in London. The peculiar words, are generally cant terms, as those who utter them well know, though some travelers, in the simplicity or malice of their hearts, describe them as being corruptions of the English, and parts of the common language.
13. Manner of Building. The manner of building is less substantial than in the Middle States, though many of the towns are of brick. There is generally a want of good architecture. There are few churches, or banks, and individuals are not yet rich enough to rear the costly piles that are common in the Atlantic towns. There are numberless neat and well-built villages, and in most of them may be seen the log-houses of those who first felled the forest. Remote from towns, the log-house is still the most common building. It requires little skill to build one, for there are neither pillars for ornament, nor posts for support. The house is made with unhewn trunks, laid one upon the other, and plastered between the crevices. The chimneys are on the outside, composed of clay, and supported by wicker work. The houses are seldom so spacious that the chamber, parlor, and kitchen are in different apartments, and the pigs and poultry have sometimes a free range. They are, however, cheap and comforta
. ble. They are covered with bark, or long, split shingles.
14. Food and Drinks. The Western States have, with the exception of fish, the same kinds of food that are common in the Middle States, and several more. There is, indeed, no scarcity of fish in the rivers, but they are coarse and little esteemed. The two great articles of food, are bacon and Indian corn. The latter is prepared in various ways; - generally it is, when ground coarse, boiled as hominy, or when the meal is finer, baked before a fire, into what is termed a johnny cake. These two dishes will never fail a traveler, either in the South or West, and one remarked, that "he had eaten so much bacon, that he was ashamed to look a pig in the face." There is game in abundance, and it is much used as food. The sweet potato is eaten, and in many parts, rice. The rice is boiled hard, and used with gravy, as potatoes are in New England. Coffee and tea are as much consumed, as in any part of the country. Maple and other sugars are common. The hotels are well furnished with substantial food, and at dinner, both whisky and milk are placed upon the table. There is much whisky consumed, yet there are perhaps fewer cases of destructive intemperance than in New England. The spirit used is less deleterious than New England rum, or other spirits. Perhaps whisky is the least hurtful of any of the spirits, though even this is not to be taken but by those who are careless of health and morals. This spirit is too cheap for the public good ; as the grain is too bulky
*" Accustomed to see the steamboat, with its prodigious steam.' To get angry, and give vent and scope to these and untiring power, breasting the heavy current of the feelings, is to let of the steam.' To encounter any disMississippi, the Kentuckian draws his ideas of power from aster, or meet with a great catastrophe, is to 'burst the this source; and when the warmth of whisky in his sto. boiler.' The slave cheers his oxen and horses by bidding mach is added to his natural energy, he becomes in suc. them go ahead.' Two black women were about to fight, cession, horse, alligator, and steamboat. Much of his and their beaux cheered them to the combat with, Go language is figurative, and drawn from the power of a ahead and buss e boiler.'” – Flint's Residence steamboat. To get ardent and zealous, is to raise the