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Unit 3.2: The South & West Transformed - Transforming the West

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Erin Rigdon

on 9 November 2016

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Transcript of Unit 3.2: The South & West Transformed - Transforming the West

Large Companies Make Mining Big Business
The 1st mining was done by individuals but by the 1870s most of the gold or silver was located deep underground - Big companies stepped in to buy mining equipment drilling deep mine shafts
Crews were often recruited from Mexico and China to work in the dangerous underground mines
Large-scale mining required lots of water to be pumped under high pressure to help separate the precious metals from silt. The silt would then run into water that farmers would use for their crops and livestock
Building the Transcontinental Railroad
As Industry in the West grew, the need for a railroad to transport goods grew - The idea for a
transcontinental railroad = rail link between the East and the West
In Europe railroads were built and owned by the Govt. but the US there were built by private enterprise
- Congress supported the construction in two ways: 1. provided money in the form of loans and 2. made
land grants = giving builders wide stretches of land on both sides of the track
Vaqueros & Texas Longhorns
Railroads Intensify Settlement
The railroads brought the nation together, moved peoples and products, and spurred industrial growth
Stimulated growth of new towns and cities along railroad route
Existing towns tried to get along the western rail route
Railroad's intensified the demand for Indian's land
Between 1864 and 1896, ten territories became states
Homestead & Pacific Railway Activity
Miners Hope to Strike It Rich
Mining was the
first great boom
in the West
First came the discovery of Gold or Silver, Then word would spread and people would pour into an area that was ill prepared for their arrival
- Pikes Peak, CA and Carson Valley, NV
Mining Camps would spring up with thousands of people, followed by more substantial communities
Miners dreamed of making it rich. Others saw an opportunity to make their fortune by selling the needs of miners for food, clothing, and supplies
They were rough areas with little law and order. To limit violence and keep order
vigilantes = self-appointed law keepers
, arose. As towns emerged they hired marshals and sheriffs, like Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson
Some towns were boomtowns = towns that only survived until the gold or silver ran out then became ghostowns
Closing the Frontier
Last major land rush occurs in Oklahoma Territory in 1889
On April 22, thousands of people called "Boomers" gathered along the borders. When the signal was given they rushed to their claims but had found much of the best land had already been claimed by
"sooners" = who had snuck onto land early to get their claim
The 1890 national census concluded that there was no longer a square mile of the U.S. that did not have at least a few white residents
The land had been given out, closing the "frontier" but many challenges remained...controversy over Indian's land rights, water usage, mistreatment of minorities (especially the Chinese and Mexican American)
Unit 3.2: The South & West Transformed
Transforming the West
Cowboys, Cattle Drives, & Cow Towns
Once cattle was rounded up the cowboys would begin the long cattle drives to take animals to a railroad company that would transport them to eastern markets
This trek could take months depending on how far out the cattle were from the nearest railroad junction
Cattle Drives would often end at railroad towns such as Dodge City, KS where the cattle was sold and the cowboys were paid.
- These cow towns gave rise to stories about characters such as Wild Bill Hickok, Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and Jesse James
These towns were also the sites of rodeos where cowboys would show of their skills and talents
End of Open-Range Ranching
Flourished after the civil war until the mid-1880s
Several factors contributed to the end of open-range ranching
1. The invention of barbed wire, made it possible to fence in huge tracts of land
2. The supply of beef exceeded the demand, causing the price of beef to drop
3. Extreme Weather, freezing winters followed by summer droughts...dried up springs and herds of cattle died
The nature of cattle ranching changed as ranchers began to raise hay to feed their stock
Farmers and sheepherders settled on land that had been previously open range
Farmers Move to the Plains
Originally set aside for Native Americans because it was thought to be too dry for agriculture
Factors that encouraged settlement varied
- Farmers were looking for a better life
- LAND, Under the
Homestead Act
, passed in 1862,
govt. would give 160 acre plots to anyone willing to live on the land for five years, dig a well, and build a road
Exodusters = former slaves who headed West, "out of Bondage into the Promised Land"
Homesteaders included women and families unlike the male dominated mining, railroads, and ranching
Challenges Demand Solutions
Homesteaders lives were HARD, Windstorms, blizzards, droughts, plagues of locusts, and loneliness
Treeless plains, so few could afford to buy lumber for building so homes were made out of 3-foot sections of sod, stacked like bricks...the result was dark, dirty, and dingy homes
"Necessity is the mother of invention" - barbed wire, plow, grain drill, windmill
In 1862, Morrill Act granted land to states for the purpose of establishing agricultural colleges
Nothing prepared them for the blizzards and droughts that would occur in the 1880s and 1890s. Some packed it up and went back east while others found new ways to survive
Economic Rivalries
The various ways that settlers wanted to use western land was sometimes at odds with others
Conflict between miners, ranchers, sheepherders, and farmers often led to violence and sabotage
- Ex. grazing cattle ruined farmland, sheep ate grass too low for cattle, miners runoff polluted water...which everyone needed
Prejudices & Discrimination
From the 1850s on, the West had the most diversity of people
Less than 20% of the nation's population but 805 of the nation's Asian, Mexican, and Native American Populations
Ethnic tension often lurked under the surface
Mixes of language, culture, religion, and food often fueled distrust because it was different
Open discrimination was more common in larger cities.
Transcontinental Railroad (cont.)
Started building in CA and Nebraska meeting in the middle.
Construction proved difficult and expensive
Human Cost of building the railroads was high, recruited immigrants from China & Ireland to help
Two tracks eventually met at Promontory, UT in 1869
2nd Boom
3rd Boom
Another Boom was caused by cattle ranching due to acres of suitable grassland
Once the railroads provided a way to move meat the race was on for land and water
Long before the settlers of the West, Mexicans in Texas had developed an efficient system for raising livestock
- The Texas Longhorn roamed freely and foraged for its own feed, was branded by their owner so they could be identified
Open-range system = property was not fenced, ranchers knew boundaries and ownership but cattle could graze freely across those boundaries.
In the spring would hire cowboys to "round up" the cattle that had roamed freely all winter
- Skills of the cowboy were from the Mexican
who learned to train horses to work with cattle as well as roping skills, the saddle, lariat and chaps
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