Settling the West. Phase 1:Miners and Ranchers. Miners Go West. 1848-Gold was found in California. Led to 1849 Gold Rush. 1859- Pure silver ore strike became known as the “Comstock Lode” was found in Nevada by Henry Comstock.
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Phase 1:Miners and Ranchers
1848-Gold was found in California. Led to 1849 Gold Rush.
1859- Pure silver ore strike became known as the “Comstock Lode” was found in Nevada by Henry Comstock.
Crime levels rose over claim disputes, theft, etc. and law officers were scarce. Self-appointed volunteers formed vigilance committees to police the towns.
Mining towns were mostly men, but women did start to migrate West and fill vital roles.
Colorado, the Dakota Territory, and Montana were also a result of mining.
1870’s -Gold was discovered in the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory while copper was discovered in Montana.
These strikes led to rapid development of the Northern Great Plains. Eventually, the Railroad was needed there as well. It allowed many farmers and ranchers to move there.
Congress divided the territory into North and South Dakota in 1889.
However, a new breed of cattle known as the Texas Longhorn was perfectly suited for life on the plains.
Descended from Spanish cattle 200 years earlier and brought in by ranchers in Mexico.
By 1865(end of Civil War), 5 million roamed Texas.
Cattle ranching was introduced by the Mexicans in Texas, New Mexico, and California before these areas were states.
The Open Range System allowed cattle ranching to grow in these areas because it was a large area of grasslands that was owned by the government. The government allowed ranchers to graze their cattle free of charge and without boundaries.
Two things changed this
Barbed wire enabled hundreds of square miles to be fenced off cheaply and easily
Though ranchers opposed it at first, they soon realized that it would allow them to block their land off from competing ranchers trying to drive cattle across their land. This made it difficult to continue with the “Open Ranges” and the need for cowboys declined.
Other factors also contributed to the end of the Long Drives:
An oversupply of animals caused prices to drop drastically.
The winter of 1886 and 1887 saw harsh blizzards that made cattle unable to travel through the deep snow.
The cattle industry survived, but it was changed forever. Cowboys became ranch hands and new European breeds replaced the longhorn.