Ohio v. the Upper Mississippi

November 08, 2004

One final question, one that is bugging me about these county purple maps.

When I sketch the U.S. for my students when talking about, well, anything, I always draw an ugly outline of the coast, then run the Mississippi and Ohio rivers up the central valley.

If you look at a population map of the country you will see that both the upper Mississippi and the Ohio are much more thickly settled than the non-riparian counties.

But the upper Mississippi went Democrat or dark purple, the Ohio river valley went red or bright purple. Only when we get to the Kanahaw river valley in West Virginia or the region where the Monongahela and the Allegeny river meet to form the Ohio River at Pittsburgh do we see blue counties in the Ohio River valley.

Why?

My guess, and this is just a guess, is that this is the lingering legacy of the Illinois Central Railroad, connecting Chicago with the Mississippi Delta, and spurring industry all along its line.

Posted by Red Ted at November 8, 2004 09:12 AM | TrackBack