What Happened Here??

bison-526805__180    Centuries ago, rolling plains covered in tall grass and wild flowers was christened ‘prairie’ by French explorers; a word meaning meadow grazed by cattle. The cattle were Bison or Buffalo; the gentle giants and lords of the prairie.

Thus was the Buffalo Nation, a land shared in equal parts by nomadic plains Indians, the restless wind, and buffalo. Existing in a time before white man ventured forth, the prairie held sway; a gentle whisper of wind echoing across a vast sea of grass disturbed only by the distant rumble of thunder as herds of large hulking buffalo shook the ground in their thunderous approach.

The triangular shaped patch of swaying grass covered what is now Wisconsin; North and South Dakota; Minnesota; Nebraska; Kansas; Iowa; Indiana; Illinois, Missouri; Oklahoma; Wyoming; Colorado; New Mexico; Texas; and sizeable parts of Montana. Collectively, this was ‘The Great Prairie’.

Eventually white man did come, the buffalo were systematically killed, the Indian tribes vanished from illnesses brought by the white man, starvation as the buffalo were was killed off, and the remainder was herded into reservations. Sadly, the Buffalo Nation died as it had been born; effortlessly and without fanfare.

As the prairie became devoid of buffalo and Indians, settlers moved in seeking land, a better way of life, a sense of adventure, or they came not quite sure why. Descending onto the prairie from every direction intent on being farmers, in short time found they could not. The tall grass and wild flowers had rendered the prairie soil dense and full of roots. The wooden plows could not cultivate the thick turf, and the settlers begin cutting out sections of the dense sod, and created little houses with it.

It would not be until 1837 that an Illinois blacksmith invented a steel plow that could cut through the prairie soil, and the age of John Deere was born. As the soil became tillable, the ‘Great Prairie’ shrank as homesteads emerged. The homesteads gave birth to little villages and towns on the vast horizon. The towns and villages grew into bigger cities and towns with homes of all type and size including the rise of the sky scrapper. The little homesteads turned into sprawling farmlands, factories emerged, and without anyone barely giving notice, ‘The Great Prairie’ had been tamed, and ceased to be.

With the death of  ‘The Great Prairie’, a greater entity was born; the Midwest; a huge chunk of land comprised of twelve states; Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri.

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