Why did so many people want to settle on the plain
1) The action of the US government
They wanted to populate the US so allowed each family who moved to the west, 160 acres of land. This was free, provided they worked and lived on it for five years. This was the Homestead Act in 1862.
2) The end of the American Civil War
Demobilised soldiers and their families were looking to start new lives, and so were new freely made black slaves. These people became the homesteaders.
3) The building of transcontinental railroads
This linked the east to the west. Now it was easier for people to get to the west, and the land either side of the track was selling off cheaply.
Problems and Solutions
The homesteaders faced many new problems living on the plains, such as
- Weather extremes; which they could not avoid or predict.
- There was no wood for fuel; so they collected cattle chips to burn.
- Natural hazards such as prairie fires; they could not stop them but got used to them.
- There was no way to protect their crops; in 1874 Joseph invented barbed wire.
- There wasn't any wood to build houses; once the railway developed they re-built their houses in wood.
The women did more jobs during this time.
They would use medical remedies if anybody was hurt, they did some of the planting in their fields.
Some of the jobs they even shared with men, as they had to sometimes help them plant crops or drive buffalo away.
They were also used as schoolteachers and minor jobs such as collecting cattle chips.