TreelessWasteland - PurpleHistoryWiki

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A Treeless Wasteland?
Not Any More!
What do we KNOW about the
Great Plains?
What do we KNOW about the
Great Plains?
Great Plains
1 In the early 1800s, settlers headed west across America
toward the Pacific Ocean. When they reached the Great
Plains, they kept right on going. Why? The Great Plains were
treeless flatlands that rose gradually from east to west. The
land was tough prairie sod (soil) held together by grass roots
but was eroded by wind and water when farmed. Drought and
dust storms were common in the summer, and there was
always the threat of prairie fires. Rainfall was irregular, and
other water sources such as streams were scarce. Its climate
was harsh with freezing cold winters and hot, dry summers.
Reports were sent back East that the land was unsuited for
farming, making it not fit to live on by those depending upon
agriculture for their survival. It’s no wonder this area was
called the Great American Desert on maps of that time.
Great Plains
1 In the early 1800s, settlers headed west across America
toward the Pacific Ocean. When they reached the Great
Plains, they kept right on going. Why? The Great Plains were
treeless flatlands that rose gradually from east to west. The
land was tough prairie sod (soil) held together by grass roots
but was eroded by wind and water when farmed. Drought and
dust storms were common in the summer, and there was
always the threat of prairie fires. Rainfall was irregular, and
other water sources such as streams were scarce. Its climate
was harsh with freezing cold winters and hot, dry summers.
Reports were sent back East that the land was unsuited for
farming, making it not fit to live on by those depending upon
agriculture for their survival. It’s no wonder this area was
called the Great American Desert on maps of that time.
Great Plains
2 After the Civil War, people’s ideas
about the Great Plains changed.
Technological improvements allowed
people to adapt to more challenging
environments. Because of these new
technologies, people saw the Great
Plains not as a “treeless wasteland,”
but as a vast or large area to be
settled.
Great Plains
2 After the Civil War, people’s ideas
about the Great Plains changed.
Technological improvements allowed
people to adapt to more challenging
environments. Because of these new
technologies, people saw the Great
Plains not as a “treeless wasteland,”
but as a vast or large area to be
settled.
Great Plains
3 Barbed wire was the answer to one of the
settlers’ main concerns—lack of wood.
This new type of fencing was made up of
twisted steel wires strung between
wooden fence posts. Barbed wire fences
were easier and cheaper to build than
fences made of wood or stone. Farmers
put them up to keep the cattle out of their
fields while many ranchers did the same to
keep their cattle from wandering off.
Great Plains
3 Barbed wire was the answer to one of the
settlers’ main concerns—lack of wood.
This new type of fencing was made up of
twisted steel wires strung between
wooden fence posts. Barbed wire fences
were easier and cheaper to build than
fences made of wood or stone. Farmers
put them up to keep the cattle out of their
fields while many ranchers did the same to
keep their cattle from wandering off.
Technological
Advance
barbed wire
Picture
How did it help
people adapt or
adjust to life on the
Great Plains?
Additional Fact(s)
Great Plains
4 As farmlands expanded, new technologies were needed
to plant and harvest in the dry, dusty soil. The steel plow
allowed farmers to cut through the thick roots of the
prairie soil. An Illinois blacksmith by the name of John
Deere designed the first steel plow, known as a
grasshopper plow. A regular plow cuts a furrow or
groove through the soil for planting, whereas a
grasshopper plow cuts horizontally underneath a layer of
sod (grass, roots and soil) and turns it over.
Grasshopper plows were used to cut strips of sod used
to build sod houses.
Great Plains
4 As farmlands expanded, new technologies were needed
to plant and harvest in the dry, dusty soil. The steel plow
allowed farmers to cut through the thick roots of the
prairie soil. An Illinois blacksmith by the name of John
Deere designed the first steel plow, known as a
grasshopper plow. A regular plow cuts a furrow or
groove through the soil for planting, whereas a
grasshopper plow cuts horizontally underneath a layer of
sod (grass, roots and soil) and turns it over.
Grasshopper plows were used to cut strips of sod used
to build sod houses.
Technological
Advance
steel plow
Picture
How did it help
people adapt or
adjust to life on
the Great
Plains?
Additional
Fact(s)
Great Plains
5 Windmills used wind power to pump water
to the surface for families and crops. This
water supply was used to meet the daily
needs of households and livestock as well
as to irrigate crops. Windmill water pumps
also supplied water to railroads for their
steam engines and allowed cattle ranchers
to create green pastures for their growing
herds.
Great Plains
5 Windmills used wind power to pump water
to the surface for families and crops. This
water supply was used to meet the daily
needs of households and livestock as well
as to irrigate crops. Windmill water pumps
also supplied water to railroads for their
steam engines and allowed cattle ranchers
to create green pastures for their growing
herds.
Technological
Advance
windmills
Picture
How did it help
people adapt or
adjust to life on
the Great
Plains?
Additional
Fact(s)
Great Plains
6 Without wood, settlers built sod houses,
or “soddies,” of large bricks of prairie sod.
“Soddies” were a source of cheap shelter.
Hand-cut sod squares that contained long
grass roots made flexible “bricks” that
were strong enough to form walls and
roofs.
Although they were dusty and
prone to leaks, sod homes were wellinsulated. They kept homesteaders warm
in the winter and cool in the summer.
Great Plains
6 Without wood, settlers built sod houses,
or “soddies,” of large bricks of prairie sod.
“Soddies” were a source of cheap shelter.
Hand-cut sod squares that contained long
grass roots made flexible “bricks” that
were strong enough to form walls and
roofs.
Although they were dusty and
prone to leaks, sod homes were wellinsulated. They kept homesteaders warm
in the winter and cool in the summer.
Technological
Advance
sod houses
Picture
How did it help
people adapt or
adjust to life on
the Great
Plains?
Additional
Fact(s)
Great Plains
7 Dry farming helped the farmers
cultivate (farm) the drier lands of
the Great Plains. In dry farming,
the soil is plowed deeply to break
up the sod and slow evaporation,
keeping in the moisture.
Great Plains
7 Dry farming helped the farmers
cultivate (farm) the drier lands of
the Great Plains. In dry farming,
the soil is plowed deeply to break
up the sod and slow evaporation,
keeping in the moisture.
Technological
Advance
dry farming
Picture
How did it help
people adapt or
adjust to life on
the Great
Plains?
Additional
Fact(s)
Great Plains
8 Farmers began growing crops that were
better suited to the drier climate. They
soon discovered that wheat was one of the
few crops that adapted to the dry growing
conditions of the “Great American Desert.”
It quickly became one of the major cash
crops of the Great Plains. Bonanza farms
grew wheat and made large profits for
their investors back East.
Great Plains
8 Farmers began growing crops that were
better suited to the drier climate. They
soon discovered that wheat was one of the
few crops that adapted to the dry growing
conditions of the “Great American Desert.”
It quickly became one of the major cash
crops of the Great Plains. Bonanza farms
grew wheat and made large profits for
their investors back East.
Technological
Advance
wheat farming
Picture
How did it help
people adapt or
adjust to life on
the Great
Plains?
Additional
Fact(s)
Great Plains
9 As farming prospered on the Great Plains, so
did the cattle industry. After the Civil War,
cattle ranches stretched across the Great
Plains. Beef cattle were raised on large areas
of open grassland unsuitable for growing
crops. Railroads helped ranchers transport
their cattle to cities in the East where the
demand for beef was high. As the cattle
industry grew, so did the competition
between the ranchers and farmers for land.
Great Plains
9 As farming prospered on the Great Plains, so
did the cattle industry. After the Civil War,
cattle ranches stretched across the Great
Plains. Beef cattle were raised on large areas
of open grassland unsuitable for growing
crops. Railroads helped ranchers transport
their cattle to cities in the East where the
demand for beef was high. As the cattle
industry grew, so did the competition
between the ranchers and farmers for land.
Technological
Advance
beef cattle
Picture
How did it help
people adapt or
adjust to life on
the Great
Plains?
Additional
Fact(s)
Great Plains
10The expansion of the nation’s railroad system played an
important role in westward expansion. The government
had given the railroad companies millions of acres of
land to encourage railroad construction into the western
territories. After the Civil War, the companies began to
sell the land surrounding the tracks to settlers at
affordable prices, bringing settlers who would farm and
start new businesses. Railroads transported settlers and
goods to the Great Plains. They also provided farmers
and ranchers a way to transport cattle and crops raised
on the Great Plains to markets in the East where buyers
were hungry for beef and grains.
Great Plains
10The expansion of the nation’s railroad system played an
important role in westward expansion. The government
had given the railroad companies millions of acres of
land to encourage railroad construction into the western
territories. After the Civil War, the companies began to
sell the land surrounding the tracks to settlers at
affordable prices, bringing settlers who would farm and
start new businesses. Railroads transported settlers and
goods to the Great Plains. They also provided farmers
and ranchers a way to transport cattle and crops raised
on the Great Plains to markets in the East where buyers
were hungry for beef and grains.
Technological
Advance
railroads
Picture
How did it help
people adapt or
adjust to life on
the Great
Plains?
Additional
Fact(s)
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