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Moving West. Mr. Williams 10 th Grade U.S. History September 2, 2009.

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moving west

Moving West

Mr. Williams

10th Grade U.S. History

September 2, 2009


“We were going to God’s Country. Eighteen hundred and 90….It was pretty hard to part with some of our things. We didn’t have much but we had worked hard for everything we had. You had to work hard in that rocky country in Missouri. I was glad to be leaving it. We were going to God’s Country….We were going to a new land and get rich.”

pacific railway act
Pacific Railway Act
  • Signed in 1862 by Lincoln
  • Provided for right-of-way construction of a transcontinental railroad by two companies
  • Union Pacific began westward from Omaha, Nebraska
  • Central Pacific Railroad began eastward from Sacramento, CA
cornelius vanderbilt
Cornelius Vanderbilt
  • By 1869 had purchased and merged three short New York railroads to form New York Central
  • Built Grand Central Terminal
  • At time of his death worth an estimated $100 million
effects of railroad
Effects of Railroad
  • Created many jobs: building railroad tracks and cars, engineers, firemen, brakemen, mechanics, loaders, machinists, etc.
  • Increased demand for coal, steel, timber, etc.
  • Linked major markets spurring industry as well
why move west
Why Move West?

Homesteaders, Miners, Ranchers

From 1870-1900 more land was settled than in all the previous history of the country

*Eight new States entered the Union

Colorado, Montana, North and South Dakota, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah


White Settlers: Came from middle class families and could afford supplies and transportation

  • African Americans: Left because of KKK and Black Codes
  • Rumors spread that Kansas would be set aside for former slaves

European Immigrants: Economic Opportunity

  • Farming, Work on the Railroads
  • Chinese Immigrants: Gold Rush, Railroad Work, or Farming
  • BUT laws outlawed Asians from owning land

Homestead Act of 1862

Promised 160 acres free to any citizen or prospective citizen, male or female, who settled on the land for five years.

With the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, People could choose from 4 different companies to make the trip in less than a week.



Poor farmers who did without even the basics, living in dugouts carved in the land and using muscle instead of machinery

Most Homesteaders found only poorer lands, far from markets, transportation, and society

oklahoma land rush 1889
Oklahoma Land Rush (1889)
  • 50,000 people rushed in staking claims on some 11,000 homesteads.

“Along the line, as far as the eye could reach, with a shout and a yell the swift riders shot out, then followed by the light buggies or wagons and last the lumbering prairie schooners and freighter’s wagons. Above all a great cloud of dust hovered like smoke over a battlefield.”

  • Major mining communities sprung up in Colorado, California, and along the Canada-Alaska border
  • Dug mine shafts, tunnels, and drilled out the ore. Dangerous work, always threat of a cave-in and explosions
  • Demand for beef grew in the East
  • Ranchers would ship cattle, using Railroad to cities like Chicago
  • Between 1882 and 1886 more than 400 cattle corporations developed in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, and NM
western migration
Western Migration
  • Cause: Americans continue moving west in large numbers
  • Effects: Traditional Native American ways of life destroyed
  • Mining Communities Established
  • Ranches and Cattle Industry Boom
  • Farmers settle on the Plains