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5.2 Settling on the Great Plains
Transcript of 5.2 Settling on the Great Plains
5.2 Settling on the Great Plains
Settlers on the Great Plains transformed the land despite great hardships.
Why it matters now:
The Great Plains region remains the breadbasket of the United States.
Vocabulary and Terms:
Settling on the Great Plains
Hundreds of thousands of families migrated west, lured by the cheap, fertile land
It took 250 years for 400 million acres of forest to be turned into farms; it only took 30 years, from 1870-1900, to settle the land
Federal land policy and the competition of transcontinental railroads made rapid settlement possible
Settlers Move Westward to Farm
Droughts, floods, fires, blizzards, locust plagues, and occasional raids by outlaws and Native Americans
The number of people living west of the Mississippi River grew from 1% of the nation's population in 1850 to almost 30% by 1900
People on the plains built homes into the land itself, or they made soddies made out of prairie turf
Settlers Meet the Challenges of the Plains
Machinery was expensive, and farmers often had to borrow money to buy it
enormous single-crop spreads of 15,000-50,000 acres, but they failed because the plains experienced drought, especially between 1885 and 1890
The Cass-Cheney-Dalrymple farm near Cassleton, North Dakota
Some farmers mortgaged their land to buy more property
By 1900, the average farmer had nearly 150 acres under cultivation
Railroads charged Western farmers a higher fee than they did farmers in the East
These challenging conditions drew farmers together in a common cause
Farmers in Debt
Railroads Open the West
Government Support for Settlement
The Closing of the Frontier
Yellowstone National Park, 1872
From 1850 to 1871, the federal government made huge land grants to the railroads for laying track
In the 1860s two railroad companies raced to lay track
The Central Pacific moved eastward from Sacramento
The Union Pacific moved westward for Omaha
Both companies reached Utah by 1869
Civil War veterans, Irish and Chinese immigrants, African Americans, and Mexican Americans did most of the labor, laying up to 8 miles of track each day
In 1862, Congress passed the Homestead Act, offering 160 acres of land free to any citizen or intended citizen who was head of the household.
Several thousand settlers were exodusters: African Americans who moved from the post-Reconstruction South to Kansas
Only about 10% of the land was actually settled by the families for whom it was intended because of cattlemen who fenced open lands and miners and woodcutters who claimed national resources
In 1889, a major land giveaway in what is now Oklahoma, settlers claimed 2 million acres in less than a day
Some took possession of the land before the government officially declared it open
Oklahoma came to be known as the Sooner State
Henry D. Washburn and Nathaniel P. Langford wanted to protect the wilderness from settlement, and in 1872, the government created Yellowstone National Park in northwestern Wyoming
The Department of the Interior forced railroads to give up their claim to Western landholdings that were equal in area to New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia combined.
By 1880, individuals had bought more than 19 million acres of government-owned land
10 years later, the Census Bureau declared that the frontier no longer existed - many thought that the frontier was what made America unique
Women often worked beside the men in the fields, plowing, planting, and harvesting wheat
They sheared the sheep and carded wool to make clothes for their families
They were skilled in doctoring from snakebites to crushed limbs
Women also sponsored schools and churches in an effort to build strong communities
Technical Support for Farmers
1837: John Deere's steel plow that could slice through heavy soil
1847: Cyrus McCormick began to mass-produce a reaping machine that could cut and thresh wheat in one pass
The spring-tooth harrow to prepare the soil (1869), the grain drill to plant the seed (1841), barbed wire to fence the land (1874), and the corn binder (1878)
In 1830, producing a bushel of grain took about 183 minutes, but by 1900 it took only 10 minutes
1.) Who were exodusters?
2.) What park did Washburn found in 1872?
3.) What is a soddy?
4.) How did the federal government support agricultural education?
5.) What were bonanza farms?
The Morrill Act of 1862 and 1890 gave federal land to the states to help finance agricultural colleges
Hatch Act of 1887 established agricultural experiment stations to inform farmers of new developments, such as techniques for dry farming, enabling the dry eastern plains to flourish and become "the breadbasket of the nation"
Exodusters were African American settlers who moved from the post-Reconstruction South to Kansas
Washburn founded Yellowstone National Park in 1872
A soddy is a home built of blocks of turf, and it was warm winter and cool in summer but was a haven for pests
The federal government passed The Morrill Act of 1862 and 1890, giving federal land to the states to help finance agricultural colleges, and the Hatch Act of 1887 established agricultural experiment stations to inform farmers of new developments
Bonanza farms were enormous single-crop spreads of 15,000-50,000 acres, such as the Cass-Cheney-Dalrymple farm