In 1941, on March 15th, an unexpected blizzard slammed North Dakota and Minnesota. The blizzard was so severe and so unexpected that 151 people died. The blizzard hit hard and fast, and the people of the area had no warning. Some parts experienced a temperature drop of 20 degrees in less than 15 minutes. Highways and roads were shut down and efforts were made to save people trapped in their cars, but for many of them, help came too late. Businesses had to stay open all night in order to shelter people who were already inside. At the time, weathermen in North Dakota and Minnesota were under the control of the meteorology office in Chicago, which unfortunately, was much more concerned with its local weather. After this history-making blizzard, there were two positive outcomes: the weathermen were given more self-control and more advanced and effective weather forecasting systems were put into place.
On the opposite end of the weather spectrum, March of 2012 in the Midwest was a record-breaking warm, causing meteorologists to react with disbelief. On march 22nd, the Marquette, MI temperature was a record 81 degrees compared with its old record of 49. The waters of Lake Michigan were the warmest on record.
On March 1st, 1857, the first railroad traveling from Chicago to St. Louis was put on its first run. This meant that travelers from Chicago could ride the train straight through to St. Louis, Missouri.
Coal mining becomes a vital Midwest industry on March 21st, 1870. This was such a dangerous job that by 1940, many of the Midwest’s coal mines had been closed.
Also on March 21st in 1833, Chicago officially became a city. Chicago is now the largest city in the Midwest in addition to being the 3rd largest American city.
March 21st seems to be a popular Midwestern date. Around this date in 1650, French fur traders made contact and began trading with Midwestern Native Americans.
On March 1st, 1803, Ohio was admitted as America’s 17th state.
The Missouri Compromise was signed into law on March 6th, 1820. This very sad, dark bargain made Missouri a slave state and Maine a free state. This was done in order to preserve the balance of power in Congress.
Jonathan Chapman, otherwise known as Johnny Appleseed, died in Fort Wayne, Indiana on March 11th, 1845. He was 70 years of age and had spent nearly his whole life introducing apple trees to the states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States, died on March 13th, 1901 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was also born in North Bend, Indiana on august 20th, 1833.
On March 19th, 1848, Wyatt Earp was born in Monmouth, Illinois.
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” was published on March 20th, 1852 by John P. Jewett and Company of Cleveland, Ohio. It’s alleged that upon meeting Stowe, President Lincoln declared, “So this is the little lady who started this great war.”
Clearly, this is not a very comprehensive list of the Midwest contributions to American history, and I’d like to add more to this at a later date. The Midwest is such a bedrock of profound and meaningful historical contributions that we simply cannot overlook this region and its place in the formation of American culture and society. Would you like to see an event or person added? Please let me know via the contact form on my Bio page!