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Pioneer settlements

Kendall settlement
Only the skipper of the "Restauration", Lars Olsen Helland from Stavanger and Peder Eriksen Meland from Bergen, remained in New York. No one knows what became of them. The rest of the group followed Cleng Peerson to the Kendall settlement, near the city of Rochester in the State of New York, which was the first Norwegian settlement in America.

Fox River
Guided by Cleng Peerson, the Sloopers started their westward movement, and settled in the Fox River in Illinois, about seventy miles southwest of Chicago. Here the second Norwegian settlement was founded. Most of the 167 emigrants who came over on the two ships Norden and Den norske klippe in 1836, made their way to the Fox River settlement. In 1850 the area counted 1252 people and during the next decade the number exceeded 3,200.

In the 1840s Wisconsin became the main region of Norwegian settlements and remained the center of Norwegian - American activity until the Civil War (1862- 65). Ole Nattestad was the first Norwegian settler in Wisconsin, and Muskego was the most famous Norwegian settlement in the state.

Until 1850 most of the immigrants came to New York. They traveled up the Hudson River by boat, through the Erie Canal and across the Great Lakes to cities like Chicago and Milwaukee. From the 1850s it was possible to travel to Chicago by train from New York and from 1856 directly from Quebec to Detroit. A technological revolution on water and land had opened North America to the rest of the world. Most important was the canals and the railroad system.

Going West: The Canal Era
The building of the Erie Canal started in 1817 and was completed in 1825. Thousands of immigrants, mainly Irishmen, were imployed in digging in the canal. It was 363 miles (584 kilometers) long, and connected Albany, the capitol of New York State on the Hudson River, to Buffalo by Lake Erie. The canal opened a waterway between the Midwest and New York and cut travel time by almost 70 percent and transportation costs by 90 percent.

Canal fever spread rapidly throughout the country, but struck most heavily in Pennsylvania and Ohio. It became possible to move people and goods from Buffalo or Albany to Philadelphia or Pittsburg or Baltimore by boat. Ohio built serveral canals that linked Lake Erie with the Ohio River, connecting ports in Upper Canada as well as the U.. S. with the Ohio - Mississippi River route to New Orleans.

The canal boats were pulled by horses until they were replaced by steamboats that could power up their way upstream against river currents. The trade westward on steamboats and with the rest of the world on sailing ships, made New York the shipping center of the U.S., and one of the most prosperous cities in the world. It also became the first choice for immigrants wanting to go west, like Cleng Peerson and his group.

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