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Chapter 13 Section 2

Chapter 13 Section 2

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Chapter 13 Section 2

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  1. Chapter 13 Section 2 Farming the Plains

  2. Geography of the Great Plains • Was known as the “Great American Desert” • Had been explored by Stephen Long in 1819 • “almost wholly unfit for cultivation” • The lack of wood and water would pose “an insuperable obstacle in…settling the country”

  3. Where are the Great Plains?

  4. Geography of the Great Plains continued • Averages only 20 inches of rainfall a year • Birmingham averages 53 inches of rainfall a year • Trees only grow along streams and rivers • Mostly prairie grasses • Home to buffalo herds • Nomadic Native American groups (Arapaho, Sioux, Lakota, Pawnee, Cheyenne, Kiowahand others)

  5. Beginnings of Settlement • Railroad companies had been given land by the federal government • Could sell it and make a profit • New railroads encouraged settlement • 1862: Homestead Act • $10 fee • Live there for 5 years • Improve the land (plant crops & trees, build a house) • Get the land for free

  6. Rain follows the plough? • Had to drill a 300 foot well • Summer temps over 100 degrees • Constant threat of fires • Grasshopper swarms • Blizzards • “wind sickness” • Isolation

  7. The Wheat Belt • New inventions and farming methods made it easier • Dry farming • Mechanical reaper • Wheat grew best (North and South Dakota, parts of Nebraska and Kansas)

  8. Sodbusters • Bonanza farms • High failure rate • “Prairie madness”

  9. Hard Times for Farmers • 1890s…great year for wheat • But leads to lower prices on the world market • Many took out mortgages on their land • Became tenants for the new owners when they fell behind on payments • 1/3 of farmers on the plains were tenant farmers by 1900 • Prolonged drought began in the late 1880s.

  10. The Wheat Market declines

  11. Closing the Frontier • April 22,1889: Oklahoma Land Rush • Territory that became Oklahoma was opened for settlement • Had the west provided a “safety valve of social discontent”? (Frederick Jackson Turner’s Frontier thesis) • Was the frontier now closed and bringing about the end of an era?