Exam 3 Essay
9 Dec 2012
Transformations of the American West
The three most important transformations of the American West were the completion of the railway system, economically, the diversity of the people, socially, and the conservation of land, politically. All of these transformations have made an unmistakable impact of the American West and what it is today.
The largest economic transformation in American Western history was the building of the railroad systems. It was the key factor in united the East and West. The railroads were by far the biggest, most impressive technological achievement ever for that time period. The pace at which goods, people, livestock, etc. changed from the steady speed of a horse, ox, or mule to the most powerful driving force the country had ever seen. The United States would finally be a united continental nation. Barren fields that flowed as far as the eye could see were turned into boon towns like Wichita, Abilene and Dodge. People of an enormous diversity traveled to the West. Civil War veterans, former European peasants, poor families all wanted to own land and start farms. And so they did, fields that had once been nothing but grass became rolling fields of wheat. Railroads carried hundreds of thousands of western longhorn cattle to markets in the east for sale. This was the key to making the “cowboy” much more famous than just a young, dusty, man with nothing but a saddle and a horse. Buffalo hunters also traveled by railroad. So many people traveled to hunt the animal, that it almost became extinct. The building of these railroads was no easy feat. The mountains of the Sierra Nevada were a big slow-down for the production by the Central Pacific railroad company. Making that even more difficult, was the fact that the companies had a hard time holding onto workers. About 3 out of 5 used the company for a free ride to the West and then disappeared. The plans called for about 5,000...