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Settling the West . Farming the Plains . Learning Targets. Know what the Homestead Act was about. Know what “dry farming” was. Know the reasons wheat was the crop of choice on the Great Plains. Describe the impact the events of 1890 had on farmers .

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settling the west

Settling the West

Farming the Plains

learning targets
Learning Targets
  • Know what the Homestead Act was about.
  • Know what “dry farming” was.
  • Know the reasons wheat was the crop of choice on the Great Plains.
  • Describe the impact the events of 1890 had on farmers.
  • Know how the railroads helped to settle the Great Plains.
the beginnings of settlement
The Beginnings of Settlement
  • During the late 1800s several factors undermined the belief that the Plains was a “Great American Desert”.
    • Railroad
    • A decade of high rainfall
    • The Homestead Act
  • Government supports settlement in the Great Plains region by passing the Homestead Act.
    • A homesteader could claim up to 160 acres of public land and could receive title to that land after living there for five years.
  • When settlers arrived on the Plains, they often found life very difficult.
  • Prairie fires were a constant danger.
the wheat belt
The wheat Belt
  • New Farming Methods and inventions:
    • One approach, called dry farming, was to plant seeds deep in the ground where there was enough moisture for them to grow.
    • Innovations were well suited for harvesting wheat, which had the advantage of withstanding drought better than corn and some other crops.
the wheat belt1
The wheat Belt

-Farmers Fall on Hard Times

  • In the 1890s, a glut (over-production) of wheat on the world market caused prices to drop.
  • Some farmers tried to make it through lean periods by mortgaging their land.
  • In hard times, some homesteaders gave up and headed home, but others soon arrived to take their place.
closing the frontier
Closing the Frontier
  • In 1890 the Census Bureau reported that settlement throughout the West had been so rapid “that there can hardly be said to be a frontier line”.
  • Most settlers made a fresh start, adjusting to the often hostile environment of the Plains.
  • The story of the old west was not about heroes who rode off into the sunset. It was about ordinary people who settled down and built homes and communities through hard work and great effort and doing what needed to be done.
review questions
Review Questions
  • What was the Homestead Act?
  • What was “dry farming”? Why was it used?
  • Why was wheat the crop of choice on the Great Plains?
  • Describe the impact the events of 1890 had on farmers.
  • How did railroads help to settle the Great Plains?
essay question and answer
Essay Question and Answer:
  • How did railroads help to settle the Great Plains?
    • The construction of railroads provided easy access to the Great Plains. Railroad companies sold land along the rail lines at low prices and provided credit to prospective settlers. Railroads opened offices throughout the United States and in major cities in Europe where land was scarce. Their posters and pamphlets proclaimed that booking passage to the Plains was a ticket to prosperity.