The American West Essay

During the early days of the frontier, a letter took months to travel from the Midwest to California.But several developments soon made communication much faster.This instrument, the first used to send messages by means of wires and electric current, could transmit messages in minutes.

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The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 authorized a transcontinental rail line.

The Union Pacific Railroad built this line westward from Omaha, Nebraska, and the Central Pacific Railroad built it eastward from Sacramento, California. On May 10, to mark the achievement, officials of the two railroads drove silver and gold spikes to join the rails.

Immigrant farmers initially skipped over most of the West, migrating instead to fertile valleys in California and Oregon by a variety of land and sea routes. victory in the Mexican War (1846-1848) gave the young nation vast new areas of land in the West.

Two events helped spur a much larger migration by 1849. Second, a gold rush in California in 1849 attracted droves of American fortune seekers called "Forty-Niners." The gold rush also attracted Chinese, Europeans, South Americans, and others, all hoping to strike it rich.

Regardless of the precise boundary line used, the western frontier differed in many ways from the eastern United States.

Much of the West had a drier climate than that of the East, and western terrain often proved much harsher.Some definitions of the region include all lands west of the Mississippi or Missouri rivers.For the complete story of western expansion in the United States, see .Such companies as Montgomery Ward of Chicago could ship goods to westerners who had ordered them through the companies' mail order catalogs. In the 1880's, for example, wealthy easterners began boarding trains to spend time on dude ranches, which provided them a brief taste of western ranch life.New forms of communication also transformed the West.This feat made possible coast-to-coast travel in 8 to 10 days.Later railway lines, including the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe and the Great Northern, added further travel options. In addition to bringing settlers west, railroads stimulated many economic activities. Railroads enabled people to ship wheat, corn, cattle, sheep, mining ore, and other products more quickly and cheaply.As a result, immigrants to the West had to adapt and find new ways of doing things to survive.Their efforts were aided by improvements in transportation, communication, farm equipment, and other areas.Miners required food, equipment, clothing, services, and entertainment, so businesses competed to provide them.Miners needed pack animals as well as meat, so ranchers also benefited.


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