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USATourist News Magazine

September 2006

In this issue:

Welcome to the September issue of the USATourist News Magazine. This month we are exploring the Midwest United States.

The Midwest United States

The "Midwest" region of the United States is actually situated in the north central part of the country and includes 12 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The Midwest has several nicknames including the "Heartland", "Middle America" and "America's Breadbasket." Many of these states are grouped with other states forming small regions with nicknames such as "Great Lakes States" or the "Great Plains."

The people of the Midwestern United States have a reputation for being honest and hardworking with strong family values. Much of the land is flat and rural with many ranches and farms but you will find also hills and mountains in the northern part of the region that offer winter skiing. The Mississippi River flows through the Midwest and is a source for transporting freight between the communities that sit on its banks.

There are a lot of attractions in the Midwest

The Mall of America

The Mall of America (MOA) is located in Bloomington, Minnesota (a suburb of the Twin Cities St. Paul and Minneapolis) but it is a lot more than just a mall. The MOA has more than 520 stores, 20 sit-down restaurants, 30 fast food restaurants, 36 specialty food stores, and 14 movie screens. There attractions for the entire family: A.C.E.S. Flight Simulation, Dinosaur Walk Museum, LEGO Imagination Center, NASCAR Silicon Motor Speedway, Underwater Adventures Aquarium and The Park at MOA (largest indoor amusement park in the USA www.theparkatmoa.com). Department stores include Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Nordstrom and Sears.

According to the Mall of America website 258 Statues of Liberty could lie inside the Mall and it could hold 32 Boeing 747s.

The MOA is five minutes from the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport and 15 minutes from the downtown areas of the Twin Cities and is located at the crossroads of Interstate 494 and Highway 77. www.mallofamerica.com

Madison County, Iowa

The Robert James Waller novel The Bridges of Madison County that later became a movie starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood lured hopeless romantics to this part of the Midwest to see Iowa's covered bridges.

There were originally 19 covered bridges in the Madison County but only six of the bridges stand today. All six are on the National Register of Historic Places. The oldest of the bridges was built in 1870. The most common practice for naming the bridges was naming it after whomever was the closest resident in proximity to the bridge. www.madisoncounty.com

While you are in the area you will want to visit the 18 acres of the Madison County Historical Society complex in Winterset, Iowa. Some of the historical buildings you can visit are the 1856 Bevington-Kaser Mansion, the 1872 Winterset Train Depot, the 1881 Zion Church, the 1920's Field Mercantile Store, and the 1856 Stone Barn. www.madisoncountyhistoricalsociety.com

The Ozarks

The Ozark Mountains are located in the southern half of the state of Missouri and part of northwest Arkansas, southeast Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma. The scenery is lush with forestry and rolling hills. In spite of the mountain name, the area is actually a plateau. Branson, Missouri is found in the Ozarks and is a fun, family friendly town with a specialty in live theatre and music. www.explorebranson.com and www.usatourist.com/english/places/missouri/branson.html

Free factory tours and visitor centers in the Midwest

The recreation vehicle manufacturer Winnebago Industries is found in Forest City, Iowa. It was founded in 1958 and is still manufacturing RVs. www.winnebagoind.com/html/company/factoryTour.html

In 1848 John Deere opened his first plow manufacturing plant in Moline, Illinois, changing farming forever. While the oldest John Deere plow in existence is located in the Smithsonian, visitors can get a glimpse of the John Deere history at the John Deere Pavilion located in Moline Illinois. Visitors are fascinated by the interactive displays and get to see new and antique equipment. www.deere.com/en_US/attractions/pavilion

Here's something to whistle about. The only manufacturer of metal whistles in the United States, American Whistle Corporation, offers guided tours to visitors. The "American Classic" whistle is the official whistle of the Boy Scouts of America and the National Fraternal Order of Police and each visitor gets to take one home. The American Whistle Corporation also makes the loudest whistle in the world. www.americanwhistle.com/tours.html

Some fun Midwest Facts

Nebraska is known as the "Beef State," producing one-fifth of the steaks and hamburgers in the United States. There are more cows than people in Nebraska.

Iowa is called the "Corn State" for the fact that 90% of the state is used for farmland. Iowa is also known as the "Hawkeye State" as a tribute to the leader of the Sac Indians, chief Black Hawk. The Sac Indians relocated to Iowa after losing a battle to white settlers.

Water skiing was invented in Lake City, Minnesota in 1922 by Ralph Samuelson.

Casinos in the Midwest

Casinos are quite popular in the Midwest, especially casino riverboats, many of which offer hotel rooms and lavish buffets. I found a Web site that can help you if you're interested in going to any Midwest casinos. The Midwest Casino Guide offers gambling information, casino reviews, travel links and more. www.midwestcasinoguide.com

Autumn is upon us

Which means fall festivals, Oktoberfests, and street fairs can found be all across the country. Here are some links to find the fun:

Oktoberfests: www.aviso.net/dir/usa/german/events/oktoberfest.htm

Midwest Art fairs: www.midwestartfairs.com/calendar.html

Festivals in the United States: www.festivals.com/search/map_country.aspx?RID=US

We will see you next month when we will be visiting Chicago, the Windy City and the Great Lakes. Have a great month and happy travels!

Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair


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