How did geography spur industrialization in the Northeast?
The fast moving rivers provided a source of power for the early power looms fundamental to the textile industry.
The soil in the Northeast is poor and not suitable for large scale farming. The small farms could support a family but not major agricultural industry, and cash exports. This geographic feature forced the Northeast to look for other means of producing wealth.
The fast moving rivers were able to power industry. The cotton from the south was used to weave textiles which could be exported as a source of wealth. The slow moving rivers of the south could be used to transport the cotton but would not power textile mills.
Later in the early 1800s coal was discovered in Western Pennsylvania and what is now Western Virginia. The coal combined with the recently invented James Watt's steam engine created another source of power for industry. The Mongahela river flowed north from the coal mines bringing this vital resource to the factories of the north.
In the 1890s oil was discovered in Western Pennsylvania. The energy resources in the North fueled industry in the north. Also the Ohio River could be used to bring iron ore from the Great Lakes to be used in combination with the coal in the north to produce steel.
The Erie canal and the National Road through the Cumberland Gap allowed the resources in the North West to be brought to the North Eastern Seaboard. These transportation aspects of the geography of the Northern part of the United States, combine with the energy resources of water wheels, water turbines, coal and oil made the North a center of industry.