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Growth in the West
The Great Plains
 The Great Plains had few trees, but its grasslands were home to more than 300,000
Native Americans in the mid-1800’s.
 Most followed the buffalo herds that rumbled across the open plains.
 Despite the presence of these peoples the United States claimed ownership of this
 Railroads played a key role in settling the Western United States.
 Trains carried the natural resources of the West-minerals, timber, crops and cattle-to
eastern markets.
 Trains brought miners, ranchers and farmers west to develop those resources further.
 Railroads opened up new areas for settlement, but it also brought an end to the
way of life for the West’s first settlers-the Native Americans.
This Map shows areas where
people settled in the west. It also
shows where different Indian
tribes lived. The transcontinental
railroad that was completed in
1869 pretty much followed the
Mormon & California Trails
Mining in the West
 In 1859 gold and silver strikes drew fortune seekers to Colorado and Nevada.
 Often, boomtowns were created when a town was settled near the site of where
the gold or silver was discovered.
 In 1874 there was also a major strike in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
 The chance to strike it rich attracted prospectors from the United States, Europe,
South America, Mexico and China.
 After minerals on the surface had been prospected out, Large mining companies
started underground mining.
 By the 1890’s the mining boom was over and many boomtowns became ghost
 The mining boom did allow Nevada, Colorado and South Dakota to gain enough
population that they were able to achieve statehood.
and now
The Rise of the Cattle Industry
 The cattle trade had been around in the Southwest since the Spanish arrived there in the
 The cattle industry became a very profitable business when Texas ranches became
connected to meat-hungry Eastern cities through the railroad.
 Vaqueros were the first to manage the cattle herds, and they taught cowhands how to
rope and ride.
 The cattle were driven from Texas to Kansas.
 The first trail was called the Chisholm Trail and went from San Antonio, Texas to Abilene,
 From 1867 to 1884 about four million cattle were driven to market on this trail.
 Vigilante Justice was common in the cattle towns and on cattle drives.
 The drop in price of beef, the invention of barbed wire and the harsh winter of 1886-1887
ended the era of the cattle drives.
The Cattle
Kansas 1870
Barbed Wire
Native Americans fight to survive
 When the first Native Americans were forced to relocate west of the Mississippi River they
were given the promise that the land would remain theirs “as long as the grass grows and the
water runs.”
 Later when more settlers pressured the Government for more land, the government signed
the Treaty of Fort Laramie which took land away from Indians again.
 Some Cheyenne and Sioux Indians resisted because they did not want live on a reservation.
 In Colorado, Colonel John Chivington killed more than 150 Cheyenne men, women and
 This became known as the Sand Creek Massacre.
 Sioux Chiefs Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse defeated Lieutenant Colonel George Custer and his
army at the Battle of Little Bighorn.
 Chief Joseph and his tribe the Nez Perce tried to escape reservation life by going to Canada.
 The last resistance of Native Americans was the Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota.
 The United States Government tried to assimilate Indians into white culture by passing the
Dawes Act.
Sand Creek Massacre
Battle of
Indian assimilation school
Crazy Horse
Chief Joseph
Life in the West
 Women had a difficult life in west, where they had to face the lonely work of establishing a
 Western lawmakers recognized the contributions of women and gave them the right to vote.
 Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Colorado were the first states in the country to give women the right
to vote.
 Cities in the west grew rapidly because of gold rushes and railroads.
 Mexicanos were people who lived in New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and California before those
areas became part of the United States.
 The West was romanticized in “dime” novels that made white settlers heroes and Indians villains.
 William “Buffalo Bill” Cody brought the West to rest of the world through his Wild West Show.
 The Real West was a place where daily life could be drab and mundane.
 Vaqueros, Buffalo Soldiers, and the Government all made contributions to the settlement of the
West that are often overlooked.
Bill” Cody
Billy the Kid is on the left. He was
also known as William Bonney. His
real name was Henry McCarty and
he was killed in a shootout at the
age of 21. Wyatt Earp is on the right.
He was a lawman (kind of like a
policeman) in the dangerous frontier
towns of Dodge City, Kansas and
Tombstone, Arizona.
Farming and Populism
 To interest both American and Immigrant families in going west, the federal
government passed the Homestead Act.
 African-Americans left the South and moved west to start a new life.
 The “sodbusters” who farmed the Great Plains had a hard life with few
trees and extreme swings in temperature between seasons.
 When John Deere invented the steel plow it made life easier.
 Farmers soon were producing a surplus of food that made their crop prices
 They were also upset at paying high fees to use the railroad to ship their
 The idea of populism grew in the farming communities around the country.
 Most Populists wanted the government to have a free silver policy.
The people on the
left were called
“Sod Busters”
because they had
to break through
the thick sod of
the Great Plains.
Notice the
material their
house is made of.
The man on the right below is John Deere. He
invented the steel plow. The company he
started when he invented the steel plow still
exists today, and is heavily involved in the
farming industry here in the U.S.A. and around
the world.
advances like the
reaper on the left
and the steel
plow on the right
made farming
easier and more
profitable on the
Great Plains.
The Election of 1896 and the Closing of the
 By the next Presidential election money was the most important issue to
 The two major candidates for President were Republican William McKinley
and Democrat William Jennings Bryan.
 Bryan was supported by farmers while McKinley was supported by
industrialists. McKinley won the election.
 By this time the only open land was Indian Territory, which was opened up
for settlement and re-named Oklahoma.
 In 1890, the Census Bureau declared the frontier closed because 17 million
people lived between the Mississippi and the Pacific.
William Jennings Bryan
was a Democrat from
Nebraska, while William
McKinley was
Republican from Ohio
William Jennings Bryan
William McKinley