BEYOND the Allegheny ranges, which are gradually broken down into their lower foothills, and then to an almost monotonous level, the expansive prairie lands stretch towards the setting sun. From their prolific agriculture has come much of the wealth and prosperity of the United States. The rivers flowing out of the mountains seek the Mississippi Valley, thus reaching the sea through the Great Father of Waters. Among these rivers is the Ohio, and at its confluence with the Beaver, near the western border of Pennsylvania, was, in the early days, the Revolutionary outpost of Fort McIntosh, a defensive work against the Indians. All about is a region of coal and gas, extending across the boundary into the Mahoning district of Ohio, the Mahoning River being an affluent of the Beaver. Numerous railroads serve its many towns of furnaces and forges. To the southward is Steubenville on the Ohio, and to the northward Youngstown on the Mahoning, both busy manufacturing centres. Salem and Alliance are also prominent, and some distance northwest is Canton, a city of thirty thousand people, in a fertile grain district, the home of President William McKinley. Massillon, upon the pleasant Tuscarawas River, in one of the most productive Ohio coal-fields, preserves the memory of the noted French missionary priest, Jean Baptiste Massillon, for all this region was first traversed, and opened to civilization, by the French religious explorers from Canada who went out to convert the Indians.
In the centre of the State of Ohio is the capital, Columbus, built on the banks of the Scioto River, a tributary of the Ohio flowing southward and two hundred miles long. This river receives the Olentangy or Whetstone River at Columbus, in a region of great fertility, which is in fact the characteristic of the whole Scioto Valley. The Ohio capital, which has a population of one hundred and twenty thousand, large commerce and many important manufacturing establishments, dates from 1812, and became the seat of the State Government in 1816. The large expenditures of public money upon numerous public institutions, all having fine buildings, the wide, tree-shaded streets, and the many attractive residences, have made it one of the finest cities in the United States. Broad Street, one hundred and twenty feet wide, beautifully shaded with maples and elms, extends for seven miles. The Capitol occupies a large park sur-rounded with elms, and is an impressive Doric building of gray limestone, three hundred and four feet long and one hundred and eighty-four feet wide, the rotunda being one hundred and fifty-seven feet high. There are fine parks on the north, south and east of the city, the latter containing the spacious grounds of the Agricultural Society. Almost all the Ohio State buildings, devoted to its benevolence, justice or business, have been concentrated in Columbus, adding to its attractions, and it is also the seat of the Ohio State University with one thousand students. Railroads radiate in all directions, adding to its commercial importance.
In going westward, the region we are traversing beyond the Pennsylvania boundary gradually changes from coal and iron to a rich agricultural section. As we move away from the influence of the Allegheny ranges, the hills become gentler, and the rolling surface is more and more subdued, until it is smoothed out into an almost level prairie, heavily timbered where not yet cleared for cultivation. This was the Northwest Territory, first explored by the French, who were led by the Sieur de la Salle in his original discoveries in the seventeenth century. The French held it until the conquest of Canada, when that Do-minion and the whole country west to the Mississippi River came under the British flag by the treaty of 1763. After the Revolution, the various older Atlantic seaboard States claiming the region, ceded sovereignty to the United States Government, and then its history was chequered by Indian wars until General Wayne conducted an expedition against the Miamis and defeated them in 1794, after which the Northwest Territory was organized, and the State of Ohio taken out of it and admitted to the Union in 1803, its first capital being Chillicothe. It was re-moved to Zanesville for a couple of years, but finally located at Columbus.
Beyond the Scioto the watershed is crossed, y which the waters of the Ohio are left behind and the valley of Sandusky River is reached, a tributary of Lake Erie. Here is Bucyrus, in another prolific natural gas region, the centre of which is Findlay. At this town, in 1887, the inhabitants, who had then had just one year of natural gas development, spent three days in exuberant festivity, to show their appreciation of the – wonderful discovery. They had thirty-one gas wells pouring out ninety millions of cubic feet in a day, all piped into town and feeding thirty thousand glaring natural gas torches of enormous power, which blew their roaring flames as an accompaniment to the oratory of John Sherman and Joseph B. Foraker, who were then respectively Senator and Governor of Ohio. The soldiers and fire-men paraded, and a multitude of brass bands tried to drown the Niagara of gas which was heard roaring five miles away, while the country at night was illuminated for twenty miles around. But the wells have since diminished their flow, although the gas still exists ; while another field with a prolific yield is in Fairfield County, a short distance southeast of Columbus. Over the State boundary in Indiana is yet another great gas-field covering five thousand square miles in a dozen counties, with probably two thousand wells and a yield which has reached three thousand millions of cubic feet in a day. This gas supplies many cities and towns, including Chicago, and it is one of the greatest gas-fields known. In the same region there are also large petroleum deposits.
Not far beyond the State boundary is Fort Wayne, the leading city of Northern Indiana, having forty thousand population, an important railway centre, and prominent also in manufactures. It stands in a fertile agricultural district, and being located at the highest part of the gentle elevation, beyond the San-dusky Valley, diverting the waters east and west, it is appropriately called the ” Summit City.” Here the Maumee River is formed by the confluence of the two streams St. Joseph and St. Mary, and flows through the prairie towards the northeast, to make the head of Lake Erie. The French, under La Salle, in the eighteenth century established a fur-trading post here, and erected Fort Miami, and in 1760 the British penetrated to this then remote region and also built a fort. During the Revolution this country was abandoned to the Indians, but when General Wayne defeated the Miamis in 1794 he thought the place would make a good frontier outpost to hold the savages in check, and he then constructed a strong work, to which he gave the name of Fort Wayne. Around this post the town afterwards grew, being greatly prospered y the Wabash and Erie Canal, and by the various railways subsequently constructed in all directions. All this prairie region was the hunting-ground of the Miamis, whose domain ex-tended westward to Lake Michigan, and southward along the valley of the Miami River to the Ohio. They were a warlike and powerful tribe, and their adherence to the English during the Revolution provoked almost constant hostilities with the settlers who afterwards came across the mountains to colonize the Northwest Territory. Under the leadership of their renowned chief Mishekonequah, or the “Little Turtle,” they defeated repeated expeditions sent against them, until finally beaten by Wayne. Subsequently they dwindled in importance, and when removed farther west, about 1848, they numbered barely two hundred and fifty persons.