I
n the United States, we have the East Coast, the West Coast, the desert Southwest, the Deep South and the Pacific Northwest. But we have no North. Nope, those states that form a bulwark against the marauding Canadians and have the Great Lakes coastlines are lumped together in the catchall “Midwest”. Our country’s other regions are known for their distinct cultures, accents and food; meanwhile Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan are somehow tied to Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa despite their vast differences. Perhaps it’s time to start calling this region what it is: the North.

Image Map

What is the North? The North is 10,000 lakes, wheat fields that compete with oil fields, dense old-growth forest full of moose, railroads that deliver iron ore from the mines to the 1,000-foot-long ships that then transport it to the blast furnaces of the Rust Belt. It is the pasties of the Michigan Upper Peninsula, long-voweled dog sledders of Northern Minnesota and the cabins of Wisconsin. There are adventures here: ice fishing and ice diving, the birthplace of both waterskiing and gravel-grinder bike races, epic canoe trips and Nordic skiing from Thanksgiving till Easter. Call it flyover country at your peril. The North is worth a stopover. A long one.

The North Journal is an ongoing series of occasional articles chronicling the places, adventures, culture and people of the North. We’ll be bringing you photo essays, videos and great features from this most cardinal of the cardinal points. We’re putting the North back on the map.

A rough approximation of "The North".