This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Why Minnesota is called *The Midwest*

Among a lot of things that I couldn't understand when I was a kid growing up in Minnesota, is why that area should be referred to as *The Midwest*. I looked at maps and Minnesota appeared to be, if anything, *Mid-north*. Why *Midwest*?

To understand why states like Minnesota and Iowa are called *The Midwest*, you have to know a little bit about the history of the westward movement of America. In the 19th century, nearly the entire population of the United States lived east of the Mississippi River. And anything west of the Mississippi River was just referred to as *The West*. Before the railroads, getting that far was quite a journey!

So, originally *The West* was about as far as people could travel on foot or horseback from more civilized parts of the United States. The real west, that is, the American west coast, wasn't referred to as the west at all, and still really isn't to this day. It was actually easier to get to San Francisco from New York than to Minnesota, because ships sailed there. Yes, they had to sail all the way around the tip of South America, but they did it.

After the railroads were completed, in the late 1800s, it was much easier to get to the places *in between* California and Minnesota. Places like Arizona came to be called *The Far West*, and eventually, just *The West*. Places like Minnesota came to be called *The Old West*, and then just the *Mid West*. Make sense now?

But, once a name sticks people just seem to keep using it. The term *Midwest* is still in use today, describing Minnesota. Most people don't question place names, but I do.
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