By the mid-1850s the California Gold Rush had ended. Disappointed miners, still hoping to strike it rich, began prospecting in other parts of the West. In 1858 a mining expedition found gold on the slopes of Pikes Peak in the Colorado Rockies. In 1859 several prospectors found a rich lode of silver-bearing ore on the banks of the Carson River in Nevada. The discovery was called the Comstock Lode after Henry Comstock, who owned a share of the claim. The gold strikes created boomtowns—towns that grew up almost overnight around mining sites. The Comstock boomtown was Virginia City, Nevada. In 1859 the town was a mining camp. Two years later it had a stock exchange, hotels, banks, an opera company, and five newspapers. Many mining “booms” were followed by “busts.” When the mines no longer yielded ore, people left the towns. Many boomtowns turned into ghost towns— deserted as prospectors moved on to more promising sites or returned home. Some ghost towns still exist in the West today, as reminders of the glory days of the mining frontier. In the 1890s people began mining lead and zinc in some of the former silver-mining towns of Colorado. Finally, the mining frontier became part of American industry, providing raw materials for manufacturers. The western mines operated far from the industrial centers of the East and Midwest. For this reason transportation played a vital role in the survival of mining communities. Railroads could—and did. The nation’s railroad network expanded rapidly between 1865 and 1890. During that period the miles of track in the United States soared from about 35,000 to more than 150,000. Railroad construction was often supported by large government subsidies—financial aid and land grants from the government. The search for a route for a transcontinental rail line—one that would span the continent and connect the Atlantic and Pacific coasts—began in the 1850s. Southerners wanted the route to run through the South, and Northerners through the North. During the Civil War, the Union government chose a northerly route. . All workers toiled for low wages in harsh conditions. On May 10, 1869, construction was completed. By 1883 two more transcontinental lines and dozens of shorter lines connected cities in the West with the rest of the nation. The railroads brought thousands of workers to the West. Trains carried metals and produce east and manufactured goods west. As more tracks were laid, more steel was needed, and the demand boosted the nation’s steel industry. Coal producers, railroad car manufacturers, and construction companies also flourished as the railroads spread across the West. Towns sprang up along the rail lines that carried the settlers’ agricultural goods to market. Railroads even changed how people measured time. In 1883 the railroad companies divided the country into four time zones.
Open range: not fenced or divided into lots
Vaquero: African Americans who moved west in search of a better life after the Civil War Home stead: to earn ownership of land by settling on it.
Sodbuster: The Plains farmers
Dry farming: One approach, called dry farming, was to plant seeds deep in the ground where there was some moisture. Cow towns: towns located near railroads to market and ship cattle Notes:
The ranchers burned a brand (a symbol) on the animal’s bodies to show who owned the cattle. Cow towns: towns located near railroads to market and ship cattle. Cattle driving were hard work.
As profits from the cattle increased, cattle ranching spread north from Texas. When cattle prices boomed the ranchers became rich.
They were developed by many skills such as riding, roping and branding the animal bodies. The railroads made the journey west easier and cheaper.
The government gave them 160 acres for more land. Live there for 5 years. If you will destroy the wagon you will build a house and keep the wagon in the house. Dry farming...
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