Settlers Move Westward to Farm • Railroads Open the West • Railway Act gave companies over 170 million acres of land worth $500 million to build railroads in the west.
Two companies, the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific built the first transcontinental railroad • Used mostly Chinese in the West and Irish in the East • Both were treated poorly, many died in the cause • Met at Promontory Point, Utah in 1869
Companies sold the land to farmers for $2 to $10 per acre. • Agents went recruiting in Europe to sell land as well. Many immigrant populations settled en-masse in areas • 70% of Minnesotans were immigrants by 1880, for example
Oklahoma Land Rush • 1889, major land give away in Oklahoma. • Settlers claim over 2 million acres in one day. • Sooners got there earlier…..get it? Oklahoma Land Rush
Closing of the Frontier Barbed Wire, railroads, overgrazing and farmers all contributed to the closing of the frontier. Successful westward expansion brings more people to the Plains and they in turn fence of the land Cattle no longer can roam freely, cowboys no longer need the long drive,
Settlers Meet the Challenges of the Plains • Hardships like drought, flood, fires, blizzards, plagues of locusts and lawlessness made life on the Plains extremely difficult. • Dugouts and Soddies. • Trees scarce, so build with the resources at hand • They used sod and the built into the hillsides.
Soddies and Dugouts • Benefits • Lots of sod at hand • Very insulated • Easy to build • Relatively fireproof • Drawbacks • Small, poorly ventilated • Few windows, little light • Varmits- snakes, insects lived with you many times • Very leaky
Women’s Work on the Plains –They did it all. • Families had to be self sufficient • Women plowed alongside husbands • in addition: • made clothes from scratch • from sheep to clothing • Made meals from scratch- • from dirt to table • Were the Doctor, Nurse, Teacher, and sometimes the Preacher.
Technical Support for Farmers Wooden plows didn’t cut the Prairie John Deere invents the Steel plow to solve this problem Farmers increase production Cyrus McCormick invents the mechanical reaper, cutting the time it takes to harvest.
Production increases Dramatically • Harrow prepared the soil, • Grain drill plants the seeds • barbed wire keeps out the cows • Combine speeds harvest • Windmill draws water from wells to water fields • Producing grain goes from 183 minutes to 10 minutes • Farmers overproduce and prices drop • Fixed costs of farming remain the same • Success of farming is killing farmers but consumers are loving the reduced prices
Results of New Technologies • Bonanza Farms now possible • Huge one-crop farms • 15,000 to 50,000 acre farms • Equipment costs money • Farmers now able to farm more land so they buy more land. Costs money • Shipping crop to cities cost money • Farmers borrow money to keep afloat • Circular problem • The more they produced the less money they received • The less they received the more they had to grow to meet their loan payments • The more they grew the more the borrowed • Farmers followed this endless cycle into bankruptcy • They needed a solution to their problems.
Teaching Farmers how to Farm Morrill Act established colleges Hatch Act set up county farm agents teach farmers new techniques. Researchers develop new seeds, new techniques for farming the arid Prairie
Farmers Unite to Answer their Economic Problems People in the cities unite to fight the forces of big business Farmers unite to fight the railroads high prices, the bankers loans and low prices for their products. The Populist Party is formed for answers.