The natural resources which enabled the growth of the North American middle colonies included the availability of soil suitable to growing staple crops and raising livestock, abundant forests to provide lumber for shipbuilding and the regional wildlife that supported the fur trade. The grain exportation from the region led to the middle colonies becoming known as "the bread basket colonies." The leading food producer in the 13 original colonies was Pennsylvania, with exports of corn, wheat, flax and rye shipping out to the other colonies, and eventually to the newly formed states until 1840.
Geography played a significant role in the development of the middle colonies. Natural harbors and easily navigable rivers with relaxed currents helped to develop trade opportunities. The Hudson, Delaware and Susquehanna rivers drew a wide variety of business into the region and enabled fur traders to profit from the region's wildlife. The region's rivers also supplied water wheel power to mill the area's grain crops.
The vast forests in the middle colonies helped to create both the shipbuilding and lumbering industries in the region. Major ports served by deep water estuaries, such as New York and Philadelphia, grew around the new industries. Gristmills and sawmills sprang up in Pennsylvania and the pig iron and textile industries also began to develop. The Conestoga wagon and the Pennsylvania long rifle soon became well-known regional products and the printing, publishing and paper-making industries also took root.