Posted by Wayne Saewyc on January 31, 2001
In Reply to: Midwest posted by R. Berg on January 31, 2001
: : It's east of the Mississippi so why is it called the midwest??
: Chalk it up to eastern chauvinism. The middle of our slice of the continent lay west of the part first settled by Europeans, and so that was "the west." (The left side of the continent was nothing but a blur from the eastern point of view.) As parts farther west were explored and annexed, the central area became "the middle west." In other words, the term "midwest" is a holdover from earlier times, much like the Electoral College.
As a practical division, the Mississippi was the western edge of "civilized" U.S.A. for a long time. In tracing frontier mythology of the USA, most "wild west" tales occured quite near the river (e.g. the James gang, born in Missouri and robbed banks in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Minnesota).
With the exception of certain isolated movements, much of the far western regions pre-railroad were settled by frontiersmen moving east from the coast after voyaging around by ship (excluding the large hispanic population who were, by the time of the USA incursions, indigenous) and of course United Staters try to forget most of the settlers arrived by rail before hiking off to their duly purchased and titled "claims".