The Great Plains - Ms Roache's Place

The Great
A quick tour
The Great Plains are located just east of
the Rocky Mountains.
Physical Features
Flatlands that rise gradually from east to
Land eroded by wind and water.
Grasslands with few trees.
The climate on the Great Plains is very harsh.
Low rainfall.
Many dust storms.
Harsh winters.
Before the Civil
People referred to the Great Plains as a
treeless wasteland.
Few people settled on the Plains, instead
they passed through on the way west.
Scenes from the Plains
So, what changed people’s
Opportunities for land ownership
The Homestead Act of 1862.
 For a $10 fee, homesteaders got 160 acres of land.
 They had to live on it and farm it for five years so they could own it.
Technological advances
 Possibility of wealth
 New beginning for former slaves
 Adventure
Barbed Wire
Steel Plows
Sod Houses
Wheat Farming
Dry Farming
Beef Cattle
A windmill is a machine that is operated by wind
power. Windmills are used chiefly to pump
water, grind grain and generate electric power.
Windmills were used all over The Great Plains.
They were used to pump water from the ground
to the surface so the settlers could use it. This
helped make The Great Plains more livable.
Barbed Wire
The widespread use of barbed wire fences
changed life on the plains. Land that was once
open to all was now being fenced off by
ranchers and homesteaders. Homesteaders
were better able to protect their crops and
ranchers had better control over their herds.
The American Indian was also affected by the
wire that they referred to as “Devil’s rope”.
Steel Plow
Invented by John Deere, the steel plow
was made to cut through the tough sod on
the Great Plains without the dirt clogging
up along the blade. This meant the farmer
could plow without having to stop and
clean his plow off every few yards.
Dry Farming & Wheat Farming
Dry farming is used in areas that have little
rainfall. Basically, the farmer divides his fields in
wide strips and then plants crops on every other
strip. This allows the soil to gather moisture for
two years.
Wheat became popular on The Great Plains
because it actually grows better this way,
especially Red Wheat introduced by Russian
Beef Cattle Raising
Many ranchers started raising beef cattle
on the Great Plains. It actually makes
plenty of sense if you think about it…what
big animal similar to a cow had been living
on the plains for years?
 The longhorn was the choice of most as it
was well suited to the harsh climate of the
Transcontinental Railroad
The Transcontinental Railroad connected
the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. It was
made up of many small railroad lines. The
railroad opened up the Great Plains area
for people who wanted to settle there, and
made trade easier from one area of the
country to another. This encouraged
industrial growth and economic growth.
Sod Houses
Sod Houses are exactly what they sound
like. Houses made of sod. The settlers
used sod because there were very few
trees on the Great Plains.