NEW YORK—A U.S. Geological Survey expeditionary force announced Tuesday that it has discovered a previously unknown and unexplored land mass between the New York and California coasts known as the "Midwest."

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The Geological Survey team discovered the vast region while searching for the fabled Midwest Passage, the mythical overland route passing through the uncharted area between Ithaca, NY, and Bakersfield, CA.

"I long suspected something was there," said Franklin Eldred, a Manhattan native and leader of the 200-man exploratory force. "I'd flown between New York and L.A. on business many times, and the unusually long duration of my flights seemed to indicate that some sort of large area was being traversed, an area of unknown composition."

The Geological Survey explorers left the East Coast three weeks ago, embarking on a perilous journey to the unknown. Not long after crossing the Adirondack Mountains, Eldred and his team were blazing trails through strange new regions, wild lands full of corn and wheat.

"Thus far we have discovered places known as Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin," said Randall Zachary, chief navigator for the expedition. "When translated from the local dialect into English, these words seem to mean 'summer camp.'"

Eldred and the others were surprised to learn that the Midwest, whose inhospitable environment was long believed to be incapable of supporting human life, is indeed populated, albeit sparsely.

"The Midwestern Aborigines are ruddy, generally heavy-set folk, clad in plain, non-designer costumery," Eldred said. "They tend to live in simple, one-story dwellings whose interiors are decorated with Hummels and 'Bless This House' needlepoint wall-hangings. And though coarse and unattractive, these simple people were rather friendly, offering us quaint native fare such as 'hotdish' and 'casserole.'"

Though the Midwest territory is still largely unexplored, early reports describe a region as backwards as it is vast. "Many of the basic aspects of a civilized culture appear to be entirely absent," said Gina Strauch, a Los Angeles-based anthropologist. "There is no theater to speak of, and their knowledge of posh restaurants is sketchy at best. Further, their agricentric lives seem to prevent them from pursuing high fashion to any degree, and, as a result, their mode of dress is largely restricted to sweatpants and sweatshirts, the women's being adorned with hearts and teddy bears and the men's with college-football insignias."

Despite the Midwesterners' considerable cultural backwardness, some say the establishment of relations with them is possible.

"Believe it or not, this region may have things to offer us," said Jonathan Ogleby, a San Francisco-area marketing expert. "We could construct an airport there, a place where New Yorkers could switch planes on their way to California. We could stage revivals of old Broadway musicals there. Perhaps we could even one day conduct trade with the Midwesterners, offering them electronic devices in exchange for meats and agriculture."

Others, however, are not so optimistic about future relations. "We must remember that these people are not at all like us," Conde Nast publisher and Manhattan socialite Lucille Randolph Snowdon said. "They are crude and provincial, bewildered by our tall buildings and our art galleries, our books and our coffee shops. For an L.A. resident to attempt to interact with one of them as he or she would with, say, a Bostonian is ludicrous. It appears unlikely that we will ever be able to conduct a genuine exchange of ideas with them about anything, save perhaps television or 'the big game.'"