There’s gold in them thar hills! Placer Mining was used to extract gold & minerals from the ground, but only the shallow level of ground was penetrated with this method. Equipment like picks, shovels and pans were used in Placer Mining Panning for Gold
Diggin’ Deeper When deposits near the surface ran out, miners began hydraulic mining. Miners sprayed high pressure water against the mountain side exposing the minerals beneath the surface. Hydraulic mining devastated the environment by depositing tons of silt, sand, and gravel into local rivers. Today, most mining companies dig deep mine shafts into the ground to extract minerals. This is called quartz mining. Hydraulic Mining
1859 Boomtown Henry Comstock claimed some land in Six-Mile Canyon, Nevada. The blue-gray mud there turned out to be pure silver! News of this strike caused a boom of 30,000 people to crowd into Virginia City, Nevada almost overnight! So many people came that Nevada became a state in 1864. Known as the Comstock Lode, it generated $230 million to help the Union finance the Civil War. Virginia City, Nevada
Ranching and Cattle Drives In the early 1800s, no one thought building a cattle ranch on the Great Plains would be successful because the cattle from the east couldn’t live on the tough prairie grass. Before the Civil War, there was no reason to round up the Texas Longhorns because beef prices were so low! Two developments changed this situation.
Two Developments Made Cattle Drives Worthwhile During the Civil War, the cattle were needed in the east to feed the soldiers. Cattle could be driven up north to the rail lines and transported to the east at 10 times the price the cowboys could get in Texas for the same cows.
Can you name this famous sheriff of Dodge City? Dodge City, Kansas Front Street- 1870’s
Vaqueros, Spanish word for “cowboys,” taught American cowboys their trade and enriched the English language with words of Spanish origin- “lariat,” “lasso,” and “stampede.”
The End of the Open Range The open range would end when ranch owners began to build fences (barbed wire) to prevent sheep herders from grazing the land meant for cattle. The price of beef fell due to oversupply and many ranchers went bankrupt. Then, in the winter of 1886, blizzards covered the ground so deep that cattle could not graze any grass.
Farming the Plains In 1862 the government encouraged settlement of the Great Plains by passing the Homestead Act. For a $10 registration fee, an individual could file for a homestead- a tract of public land available for settlement. A homesteader could claim up to 160 acres of land and could receive title to that land after living there for five years.
The steel plow, invented by John Deere, made it easy for farmers to plow through the hard ground. To get water, settlers drilled deep wells and used windmills to pump the water to the surface.
On April 22, 1889, the government opened one of the last large territories for settlement. Within hours, more than 10,000 people raced to stake claims in an event known as the Oklahoma Land Rush.