Changes on the Western Frontier Sec. 2

Changes on the Western Frontier
Chapter 5
Section 1: Cultures Clash on the Prairie
Section 2: Settling on the Great Plains
Section 3: Farmers & the Populist Movement
Settlers Flock Westward
• Rapid settlement of the Great Plains was
possible because of two factors
• *Federal Land Policy
• *Completion of transcontinental railroad
Impact of the Railroads
• 1850-1871: huge federal land grants
given to railroad companies to encourage
• 1st transcontinental railroad – 1869
• Railroad sold extra land to farmers
• Railroads sent recruiters to Europe
Europeans Flock to the West
Go West
• Push Factors: Reasons that people want to
leave their home country.
• *1. Escape Warfare
• *2. Overpopulation
• *3. Lack of Economic Opportunity
• Pull Factors: Reasons that people want to come
to a new country.
• *1. Free Land
• *2. Economic Opportunity
• *3. Political and Economic Freedom
Homestead Act 1862
• The government would give the head of
the household 160 acres free if
homesteaders would live and make
improvements on the land for 5 years.
Problems with the Act
Railroad Companies
Homestead Act Land
Only 10% of land went
to Homesteaders
Miners & Woodcutters
• Kansas invited African
Americans from the
south to settle in the
state. (See poster page
231 or above)
• Settled in communities
across Kansas
Benjamin "Pap" Singleton
– Nicodemus
Listen to Podcast with the Kansas Historical Society:,%20Henry&startsearchat=0&PHPSESSID=ac8e1ca9b1e6315220d081bf2841b538
Oklahoma Land Grab Race
• Sooners: Those who snuck into the territory early and
claimed land sooner than they should have.
• The land run started at high noon on April 22, 1889, with
an estimated 50,000 people lined up for their piece of the
available two million acres (8,000 km²).
Check out the following site for the Native American point of view:
The Closing of the Frontier
• The Government passed legislation to
preserve the environment of the west.
– * 1872 – Yellowstone National Park
– *1890’s – Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon,
Mt. Rainer
• By 1880 individuals had claimed 19 million
• By 1890 the Western frontier was
considered gone
Settlers Meet the Challenges on
the Plains
Insect Infestations
Occasional raids by Indians or Outlaws
Not all 160 acres were equal in quality
Dugouts and Soddies
• Soddies: Freestanding house made of
stacked sod blocks cut out of the ground
• Dugout: Home dug out of a hill or ravine
Benefits & Problems
• Warm in the winter
• Cool in the summer
• Fire Proof
Little air or light
Snakes, insect, pests
Leaked when it rained
Women’s Work
• Lonely Isolated Life
• People had to be very self-sufficient
Feed Family
Make Clothing
Work in the fields (plowing, planting, harvesting)
Care for Animals (cows, hogs, sheep, chickens)
Sheer Sheep, card wool, sew or knit clothing from wool
Haul water from well
Make soap and candles
Do laundry by hand
Iron clothing
Can food
Many other things
Women’s Work
Technical and Educational Support
for Farmers
• New Technology
made farming easier,
less time-consuming,
and more profitable
• New Equipment
• Steel Plow – 1837 – John Deere
• Reaper – 1834 – Cyrus
• Grain Drill – 1874
• Barbed Wire – 1874
• Cordbinder (Harvester) 1878
• Reaper that could cut and thresh
(Fore-runner of Combine)
• Windmills
Educational Support
• Morrill Land Grant Act 1862 and 1890
– Gave federal land to states to help finance agricultural
– Passed on July 2, 1862, this act made it possible for
new western states to establish colleges for their
citizens. The new land-grant institutions, which
emphasized agriculture and mechanic arts, opened
opportunities to thousands of farmers and working
people previously excluded from higher education.
• Hatch Act 1887
– Established agricultural experimental stations to
communicate new developments in agriculture to
farmers in every state.
Farming Innovations
• Development of grains for arid land
• Dry farming techniques
Farmers in Debt
Low Crop Prices
High Cost of
Farmers in Debt
High Interest Rates
High Shipping Rates
Bonanza Farms
• Enormous single crop spreads of 15,000
to 50,000 acres
• Why did the big farms fail?
• * The couldn’t compete with small farmer
who was more flexible in the types of
crops they grew
• * Droughts

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