Jefferson County Online
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The following is a chapter from "The History of Jefferson County, Iowa", Pages 266-267, published by the Western Historical Company of Chicago in 1879.



Its length, north to south, embraces an extent of 380 miles; its breadth one of 250 miles at maximum. Area, 84,000 square miles, or 54,760,000 acres. The surface of Minnesota, generally speaking, consists of a succession of gently undulating plains and prairies, drained by an admirable water-system, and with here and there heavily-timbered bottoms and belts of virgin forest. The soil, corresponding with such a superfices, is exceptionally rich, consisting for the most part of a dark, calcareous sandy drift intermixed with loam. A distinguishing physical feature of this State is its riverine ramifications, expanding in nearly every part of it into almost innumerable lakes -- the whole presenting an aggregate of water-power having hardly a rival in the Union. Besides the Mississippi -- which here has its rise, and drains a basin of 800 miles of country -- the principal streams are the Minnesota (334 miles long), the Red River of the North, the St. Croix, St. Louis, and many others of lesser importance; the chief lakes are those called Red, Cass, Leech, Mille Lacs, Vermillion, and Winibigosh. Quite a concatenation of sheets of water fringe the frontier line where Minnesota joins British America, culminating in the Lake of the Woods. It has been estimated, that of an area of 1,200,000 acres of surface between the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers, not less than 73,000 acres are of lacustrine formation. In point of minerals, the resources of Minnesota have as yet been very imperfectly developed; iron, copper, coal, lead -- all these are known to exist in considerable deposits; together with salt, limestone, and potter's clay. The agricultural outlook of the State is in a high degree satisfactory; wheat constitutes the leading cereal in cultivation, with Indian corn and oats next in order. Fruits and vegetables are grown in great plenty and of excellent quality. The lumber resources of Minnesota are important; the pine forests in the north region alone occupying an area of some 21,000 square miles, which in 1870 produced a return of scaled logs amounting to 313,116,416 feet. The natural industrial advantages possessed by Minnesota are largely improved upon by a railroad system. The political divisions of this State number 78 counties; of which the chief cities and towns are: St. Paul (the capital), Stillwater, Red Wing, St. Anthony, Fort Snelling, Minneapolis, and Mankato. Minnesota has already assumed an attitude of high importance as a manufacturing State; this is mainly due to the wonderful command of water-power she possesses, as before spoken of. Besides her timber-trade, the milling of flour, the distillation of whisky, and the tanning of leather, are prominent interests, which in 1869, gave returns to the amount of $14,831,043. Education is notably provided for on a broad and catholic scale, the entire amount expended scholastically during the year 1870 being $857,816; while on November 30 of the preceding year the permanent school fund stood at $2,476,222. Besides a University and Agricultural College, Normal and Reform Schools flourish, and with these may be mentioned such various philanthropic and religions institutions as befit the needs of an intelligent and prosperous community. The finances of the State for the fiscal year terminating December 1, 1870, exhibited a balance on the right side to the amount of $136,164, being a gain of $44,000 over the previous year's figures. The earliest exploration of Minnesota by the whites was made in 1680 by a French Franciscan, Father Hennepin, who gave the name of St. Antony to the Great Falls on the Upper Mississippi. In 1763, the Treaty of Versailles ceded this region to England. Twenty years later, Minnesota formed part of the Northwest Territory transferred to the United States, and became herself territorialized independently in 1849. Indian cessions in 1851 enlarged her boundaries, and, May 11, 1857, Minnesota became a unit of the great American federation of States. Population, 439,706.

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