•The Frontier West

Thinking About the Westward Movement
Think about the Westward Movement and the idea of Manifest Destiny that you learned about in US History I. John Gast's painting from the home page of this wiki is a representation of 19th century thinking about the American West. Click on the link and answer questions A to F that help you to think about the meaning of the painting. Copy the chart and questions into your notebook to answer them. Scrolling down below the questions will reveal the picture.
Link to questions: Gast Painting
If you need a clearer view of the picture, it can be found at this link:
American Progress by John Gast

Next, look over the charts found below. They contain an outline of the information that you will study in this unit about the Frontier West. Be ready to discuss how this information compares to the ideas found in Gast's painting.

Unit Charts√√

√√Use these links to view 3 charts showing the SOL content of this topic. Study Map 2a Study Map 2b

Study map 3a


Game #1 West and Regions Game

Game #2 Westward fill-ins

Game #3 Great Plains 1

Game #4 Great Plains 2

Game #5 G.Plains Harder!

Game #6 G.Plains Hardest!

Frontier West Vocabulary: Copy the words onto the folded vocabulary page(s) for this unit in your binder. Use the list below and/or the links to write a definition for each word. If SOL is listed next to the word, we will get that definition from SOL materials in class. Leave it blank for the moment.

• Great Plains Great Plains

• treeless wasteland SOL

• barbed wire (look below)

• steel plow (look below)

• windmill (look below)

• dry farming (look below)

• wheat farming (look below)

• sod houses (below)

• beef cattle raising (below)

• Transcontinental Railroad (below)

• Exodusters Exodusters

• adaptations SOL

• technological advances SOL

• Chief Joseph Chief

• Battle of Little Bighorn Battle

• George Armstrong Custer ( Copy the first two sentences in the link.) Custer

Definitions: Adaptations and Inventions Read these definitions and summarize them. We will discuss your summary in class and develop a class summary of each one. Write the class's summary of each definition into your notebook.

Glidden's Patent For Barbed Wire
Glidden's Patent For Barbed Wire

Barbed wire fencing was used to build fences on the treeless Great Plains.
Joseph F. Glidden of Dekalb, Illinois attended a county fair where he observed a demonstration of a wooden rail with sharp nails protruding along its sides, hanging inside a smooth wire fence. This inspired him to invent and patent a successful barbed wire in the form we recognize today. Glidden fashioned barbs on an improvised coffee bean grinder, placed them at intervals along a smooth wire, and twisted another wire around the first to hold the barbs in a fixed position.

The Steel Plow
The Iron plow, brought from Pennsylvania or Virginia, couldn't cut through the tough sod and tangled roots. It left behind sticky soil. The steel plow was able to cut through the tough prairie sod.
*John Deere, blacksmith from Vermont to Illinois. Deere moved west for work, and there was much to be done - shoeing horses and oxen, and repairing the plows and other equipment for the pioneer farmers. From them he learned of the serious problem they encountered in trying to farm the fertile soil of the Midwest. The cast-iron plows they had brought with them from the East were designed for the light, sandy New England soil. The rich Midwestern soil clung to the plow bottoms and every few steps it was necessary to scrape the soil from the plow. Plowing was a slow and laborious task. Many pioneers were discouraged and were considering moving on, or heading back east.
Deere studied the problem and became convinced that a plow with a highly polished and properly shaped moldboard and share ought to scour itself as it turned the furrow slice. He fashioned such a plow in 1837, using the steel from a broken saw blade, and successfully tested it on the farm of Lewis Crandall near Grand Detour.
220px-Palouse_hills_-_9591-1.jpgDry Farming
Dry farming refers to a set of techniques for raising crops in a semi-arid climate. Only a few crops are produced in quantity on dry farms, wheat being the predominant crop. Other crops produced on dry farms are alfalfa hay, wild hay,barley, oats, corn and rye. In dry farming, every other field is left unplanted (fallow) towater and land use.
The first step in Dry Farming is deep plowing at the proper time. The ground plowed should be packed the same day to prevent evaporation, by a subsurface packer -- an implement with ten wedged-shaped wheels which cut the soil and press it together. Then the ground is to be smoothed down by a harrow. After every rain the field is again harrowed, forming a dry blanket of earth and preventing evaporation. Thus all moisture that falls is conserved, and as it rises by the capillary attraction is available for absorption by the growing plants.
* Prairie windmill.jpgWindmills
Born out of need, windmills began to crop up on the treeless North American plains in the latter part of the 19th century. As the western population grew, so too, did the demand for fresh water. To quench the pioneers' demanding thirst, a steady stream of new manufacturing plants sprung forth creating a vast assortment of the wooden and/or steel windmill structures to run the pumps in the deep prairie wells. They were given descriptive names like "merry-go-round," "battle-ax," or "baby-jumbo." Today, most of the lone guards we see standing tall against the vacant Nebraska skies are no more different than the windmills from the days of early settlement.

Family and Their Sod House
Family and Their Sod House
Sod Houses

The sod houses are small houses with walls built of stacked layers of uniformly cut turf. The individual “bricks” of sod are held together by the thick network of roots that made preparing fields for planting so very difficult. Sod was cut with special plows, or by hand, with an ax and/or shovel. Roofs were made from timber, rough or planed, and covered with more sod. Build a Sod House Game»»»»Build a Sod House
More information about sod houses with some fun activities can be found at this link. All About Soddies
* Wheat Farming
In the Great Plains rainfall is low (semi-arid) and to earn an adequate income farmers must work large acreage to produce enough to stay in business (given the world prices for wheat). Wheat is a grasslands crop that grows well on the Great Plains.
Dry farming results in alternating strips of land cultivated in wheat and land resting as fallow.
Texas Longhorn
Texas Longhorn
Beef Cattle Raising

As tough Texas longhorn cattle were brought north to Kansas, they were bred with heavier Hereford and Angus bulls to produce a breed, which combined the stamina of the longhorns with the weight and tenderness of eastern breeds. Growing this distinctive breed of cattle soon became quite profitable because improvements in meat handling and slaughtering, refrigerator cars and cold storage opened east coast and European markets for beef. By 1870 ranches covered much of Kansas and Nebraska. Ranching soon spread into Colorado, stocked by cows brought up from Texas along the Goodnight Loving Trail. By 1869 a million cattle grazed within the borders of the state. From Colorado, extensive cattle raising spread into Wyoming.

Ad For Transcontinental Railroad
Ad For Transcontinental Railroad

The transcontinental railroad linked the farmers and miners of the West with the cities of the East. Dignitaries and railworkers gather to drive the "golden spike" and join the tracks of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory Point, Utah, on May 10, 1869. In the first photograph, the Central Pacific's wood-burning locomotive, Jupiter, stands to the left, the Union Pacific's coal-burning No. 119 to the right.
Union Pacific in Blue/ Central Pacific in Red
Union Pacific in Blue/ Central Pacific in Red

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When I landed on the soil [of Kansas] I looked on the ground and I says this is free ground. Then I looked on the heavens and I says them is free and beautiful heavens. Then I looked within my heart and I says to myself, I wonder why I was never free before?
John Solomon Lewis
(Source: PBS.org)

rw9009_b-700x700.jpgIf you went west, what would you take with you in your covered wagon? Click on the link to see an illustration from 1869. Wagons West!After clicking on the link, select and click on the title, "Wagon Trains." Then click on the title, "Pilgrims on the Plains." Enlarge the picture by clicking on it.

Closing the Western Frontier
What does "Closing the Frontier" mean? Copy this question into your notebook. Then, click on this link, read the page, and write your answer on the notebook page.
Reading: Closing the Western Frontier
Understanding Goal:
Expansion led to conflict.

Investigative Question:
How can we see the settlement of the western frontier from different perspectives? Whose perspectives were involved in the settling of the west? Write these two questions in your notebook, West Powerpoint link, read the powerpoint, and answer these questions.

Next, write the following questions onto the same page in your notebook. Use the FOUR pictures that follow to answer the questions in complete sentences in your notebook. Then, tell in sentence form what types of or examples of CONFLICT you found in the collection of pictures.

Explore: What signs of progress do you see in the documents below?
Connect: Look closely at the two photographs of the Native American boys.
What differences do you see? What was the cost of progress to
Native Americans?
Learn: Go to LOC.gov and explore History of the American West 1860-1920 and Edward S. Curtis’s The North American Indian to learn more. Learn more about Edward S. Curtis and his work. How did his pictures influence opinions? Edward S. Curtis

external image 46050r.jpg
Photograph of The Jupiter, the train that carried Leland Stanford, one of the owners of the Central Pacific Railroad, to the Golden Spike Ceremony celebrating the completion of the transcontinental railroad. Native Americans watch from the hill in the distance.

Land For Sale!
Image 1 of 1, Millions of acres. Iowa and Nebraska. Land for sal
Image 1 of 1, Millions of acres. Iowa and Nebraska. Land for sal

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Settling the Prairie: List the characteristics of the prairie site shown in the picture below. What details do you see?Does it look like the "Millions of Acres" picture shown in the advertisement above? What animals and plants would you expect to find there? Imagine that your family has just arrived at this site from Hampton, VA, in a covered wagon and that you are told that this is your new home. Write about your feelings in three sentences. Use the information from your lists in your sentences. weippeprairie.jpg

Look at this picture showing a similar area 100 years after settlement. How has it been changed from the original prairie site? 00137146.jpg

Comparing Evidence Found In Pictures
Write the names of the next two paintings in your notebook.
List five details in your notebook for the picture shown below. Compare it to the two pictures shown above in two sentences, one sentence for each of the two pictures above.
The Prairie Is My Garden by Harvey Dunn

Using five details and two sentences, compare this picture to the one above.
Buffalo Hunt by George Catlin, 1845

How many differences have you seen in these two pictures? What do those differences have to do with the idea of conflict and with the idea of point of view?

hunters_shooting_bison_from_a_train.jpgHunters Shooting Buffalo from a Train: Many buffalo were slaughtered to make way for the railroads. How would this affect the Plains Indians? Click on the link found directly below. How did the Plains Indians use the buffalo that they hunted?

What can you make from a buffalo?How to Use a Buffalo!

Remains of Buffaloes

Pile of Buffalo Skulls in the 1870s
This photograph shows a mound of buffalo skulls left by hunters from the East. Many were shot to make buffalo rugs for the homes of the hunters. Why would the people from eastern cities and towns want those rugs? Was having the buffalo rugs necessary for their survival?

Chapter Reading: Write these three titles on page FW 8 in your binder: Comstock Lode - Mining, The Cattle Frontier, and The Farming Frontier. Space the titles evenly down the paper. You will click on the link found below to get to them. When you read, write the most important sentence in EVERY paragraph on your paper. This will be your summary of the readings. Three Readings

Next, read about the people and events of the Plains Indian Wars. List these titles on page FW 9 in your notebook: Chief Joseph, Geronimo, Sitting Bull, Custer's Last Stand, Battle of Wounded Knee. Find the impact of U. S. policy on the lives of American Indians as you read by writing one important word or phrase from each paragraph written about each title.

•Chief Joseph: Click on the link for the reading. Be sure to read all 3 pages of the reading for Chief Joseph. Chief Joseph


• Geronimo Geronimo


•Sitting Bull Sitting Bull


• Battle of Little Bighorn and •George Armstrong Custer: Click on the link. Custer's Last Stand

•Battle of Wounded Knee Wounded


A Scrapbook of the Old West

Views of the West: Click on the link for pictures of the west taken after the Civil War. Use your four summaries as a guide for choosing the pictures. The summaries will be written on the four pages of your Old West scrapbook. The pictures will be glued onto the page with the correct summary. You will write your own caption for the picture.

Scrapbook Grading: It counts as one test grade.

There will be four pages in the scrapbook.

Each page will have ONE topic.

The four topics are:

1. Settlers

2. American Indians

3. Battles

4. Conclusion (This is YOUR conclusion.)

EACH page will have
•Summary (15 points)
•Picture + Caption (5 points)
•Title, color, written in ink (5 points) Total points for each page = 25 points
Total points for entire scrapbook = 100 points

Primary Picture Source for Scrapbook: Library of Congress Pictures

Another Primary Source: Resources from Harper's Weekly, a weekly news magazine of the late 1800s and early 1900s, show us what people of the day thought about living and settling in the American West. This source includes drawings that were used to illustrate articles from that time period. You MAY want to choose from these illustrations for SOME of your scrapbook pictures. Don't use this source for all of them. Vary your choices so that they come from both the Library of Congress and Harper's Weekly. HarpWeek: The West