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Settling the West. 1865-1890 Miners & Ranchers Guiding Question: What economic opportunities did miners and ranchers seek?. Growth of the Mining Industry. Boomtowns. Mining played an important role in settling the American west

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settling the west

Settling the West


Miners & Ranchers

Guiding Question: What economic opportunities did miners and ranchers seek?

  • Mining played an important role in settling the American west
    • After the Civil War, demand for minerals such as gold, silver, and ore rose.
  • Henry Comstock
    • In 1859, he stakes a claim in Six-Mile Canyon near Virginia City, Nevada
    • After selling his claim because he was unable to find gold, people begin flocking to the area to mine for silver ore that is found there
      • This find, known as the Comstock Lode, generated more than $230 million
        • So many people flooded Nevada that it became the 36th state in 1864
        • So much money was generated that it helped the Union finance the Civil War
  • As mines were discovered, towns sprung up around them ro accommodate the miners, they were called boomtowns
    • These boomtowns were generally rowdy places
    • Law and order was enforced by vigilance committees
  • Boomtowns arose wherever mines were found
    • When these mines were used up the boomtowns around them tended to shut down too
    • This is where the term “ghost town” comes from
  • Several states where developed during this time period
    • Colorado, Arizona, The Dakotas, and Montana
  • Pikes Peak, Colorado
    • Gold was discovered here in 1858
    • Miners flocked to this region only to find to return home unsuccessful
      • Most of the gold was hidden beneath the surface of the mountains
  • Leadville, Colorado
    • News of a big lead and silver mix deposit brought brought as many as 1,000 miners a week in the 1870’s
    • Mining in this region yielded over $1 billon
  • Mining in these regions allowed the building of railroads through the Rockies
  • Denver became the second largest city in the west, after San Francisco
boomtown to statehood
Boomtown to Statehood
  • Discovery of gold in the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory and copper in Minnesota drew miners in the 1870’s
    • In 1889 North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota became states
  • Arizona and New Mexico become states in 1912
mining technology
Mining Technology
  • Placer Mining
    • Picks, shovels, pans
  • Sluice mining
    • Made river mining faster
  • Hydraulic mining
    • Use of water pressure, effectively removed large quantities of minerals generated lots of money for local and state governments
    • This method caused controversy between miners and farmers.
      • Remnants from the mining ended up in river beds, causing river levels to rise causing major floods that damaged farm lands
  • 1893, Congress passes a law allowing hydraulic mining as long as companies created a place to store sediment
what would you do
What would you do?

Think about the miners that returned home unsuccessful at Pikes Peak. What other actions might you taken instead of just returning home?

cattle drives
Cattle Drives
  • Americans had long believed that it was impossible to raise cattle on the Great Plains
    • Cattle from the east would not be able to survive
    • In Texas, however, a breed known as the longhorn adapted to the region and survived.
      • These animals had been brought over by the Spanish two centuries prior and had been allowed to roam freely
      • By 1865, about 5 million longhorns lived in Texas
cattle drives1
Cattle Drives
  • The Federal Government owned vast areas of land in the Great Plains
    • This open range provided land where ranchers could allow their cattle to graze free of charge
  • After the Civil War the price of beef skyrocketed, western ranchers sought to find ways to get their cattle to eastern markets
long drives
Long Drives
  • Railroads appeared in the Great Plains during the 1860’s in places like Abilene and Dodge City, Kansas and Sedalia, Missouri
    • Ranchers realized that if they could get their cattle to these locations they could make money in the eastern markets
  • In 1866, ranchers began rounding up their cattle for the long drive to Abilene, this trail becomes known as the Chisholm Trail
    • About 260,000 longhorns made the journey
  • Between 1867-1871 cowboys drove nearly 1.5 million up the trail
ranching big business
Ranching & Big Business
  • Cattle usually went straight to the slaughterhouses or they were sold off to ranchers who were building up their herds
  • Cattle wasn’t the only business that was booming on the Plains
    • Sheep herders & Farmers began moving in to the region
    • These newcomers to the Plains, sparked “range wars”
  • The creation of barbed wire helped settle many disputes amongst ranchers and farmers
  • This was the beginning of the end of long cattle drives
the end of long drives
The End of Long Drives
  • Investors from the East and Britain poured so much money into the cattle business that there was an oversupply
    • This caused prices to drop in the mid-1880’s causing many ranchers to go bankrupt
  • The winter of 1886-1887 brought brought blizzards that killed off many of the cattle
  • The cattle industry survived but it was completely changed.
    • What were some of the aspects that changed?

When the U.S. acquired the southwest region from Mexico in 1848 it also acquired the people living in that region

    • The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo allowed the regions residents to retain their property rights and become American citizens
  • Society in this region was dominated by landholding elites
    • These landowners lived on vast haciendas (ranches) that covered thousands of acres
  • The California Gold Rush changes this society by outnumbering Hispanic Californians

When California achieved statehood in 1850, many Hispanics served in state and local offices

    • This was not the case with all Hispanics in the region
    • Many were relegated to lower paying less desirable jobs
  • Many lost their land to newcomers who ignored their rights that were supposed to be protected by Guadalupe Hidalgo

Las Gorras Blancas, 1889

    • Hispanic New Mexicans began to fight back against American settlers
    • Began raiding ranches owned by settlers, tore down fences, and burned barns and houses
  • Hispanics in New Mexico were able to remain more influential than those in California and Arizona
  • The population in the southwest began to grow during the 1880’s-1890’s
    • In addition to American and European immigrants, Mexican immigrants began to move into the region
  • Barrios
    • Hispanics began settling in neighborhoods together
looking at primary sources
Looking at Primary Sources

Look at the primary sources on page 164. Where some of the skills of the vaquero?