West Andre S. Madelyn F.
Introduction • There are 8 states in the West: Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, North Dakota, and South Dakota. • Thousands of settlers headed west in the 1800s to find a better life. They were looking for open land to start a farm and build a house. • Montana is so large that ten states could fit inside it. They are Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland.
People and History • In 1804 President Thomas Jefferson chose Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the new land in the west. They spent more than 2 years exploring the west and had help from a Native American named Sacagawea. They brought back maps and stories about how beautiful the west was. The government began to kick the natives off their land. • The government started the Homestead Act which stated that they would give 160 acres of land free of charge to people who promised to live there for five years, farmed the land, and built a house there. • As settlers moved in, Native Americans were forced to leave their land and go to reservations. But this land had poor soil for farming and few trees.
Land in the Area Skiers love the powdery snow in Utah and Nevada. Some of the areas in the Rockies can get as much as 30 ft. of snow per year. Skiers need to watch for avalanches. An avalanche is a mass of snow that slides down a mountain. • Winters can have major snowstorms and summers can be extremely hot and bring drought. A drought is a long time with no water. • There are stone formations in the Arches National Park in Utah called Windows. There is an arch on the top with a huge open area underneath it.
Plants and Animals • The animals in the West are bighorn sheep, mountain lions, moose, deer, coyotes, pronghorns, bison, and prairie dogs. • The plants in the West are wild flowers, monkey flowers, forget-me-nots, black-eyed susans, scarlet paintbrushes, thimbleberries, buttercups, sage brush, bitter brush, rabbit brush, bristle cone pine tree, and orange sneezeweeds. • The mountains are covered with pine trees, spruce, and other evergreen trees. • The cacti plant has a very thick stem that can hold water for a very long time. This helps the plants adapt to the dry conditions.
Cities and Towns • Cities: Salt Lake City, Utah, Boise, Idaho, Denver, Colorado, and Las Vegas, Nevada are the big cites in the West. • Towns: Last Chance Gulch, Helena, Montana Silver City, Idaho, Old Desert Village, Utah and Park City, Utah. • Las Vegas and the area around it are the fastest growing population in the country. More than a half people live in Las Vegas. • The MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas is the largest hotel in North America and the second largest in the world. There are real lions inside that live in a lion habitat. There is also a gate to protect people from the lions. • 2,500 athletes from about 80 countries went to Salt Lake City, Utah from Winter Olympics in 2002. • More than 40,000 people go to the Sundance Film in Park City, Utah. There are only about 7,300 people there year-round.
Rural Life • Reservations don’t have to follow all state laws. That is why gambling is allowed on reservations. Casinos on reservations provide jobs for Native Americans. • On a western ranch it is a long way to stores, schools, and neighbor’s house because of wide-open spaces. • South Dakota farmers have to spray their crops to kill insects that might damage the crops on their farm. • Some ranches in the west let people feel what it is like to live in the west. Tourists come there to take care of animals, milk a cow, and learn how people in the west live. • Everything from onions, potatoes, sunflowers, and cherries are grown in the west. Most of the nation’s wheat, barley, and oats are grown in the west.
Getting Around • In Utah you can drive almost 100 miles without seeing a town or a gas station. A lot of times people will choose to fly between cities. If you do drive make sure your gas tank is full. • Railroad tracks were needed across the nation in the 1860s. The Central Pacific Railroad built tracks from California eastward. The Union Pacific Railroad built tracks from Nebraska westward. On May 10, 1969, the two tracks met in Utah. • Highways and railroads connected the west to other parts of the country. Trucks and trains carry lumber, coal, farm products, and factory made goods to other cities. Products are also put on boats that go from the Columbia River to the ocean. The products are loaded onto boats that go to forty different countries. • In Nevada people call route 375 “Extraterrestrial Highway”. This is because people have reported seeing UFOs there. Perhaps these sitings are of planes taking off from Area 51. Area 51 was used by the military to test spy planes. But the military keeps details of these missions top secret.
Work in the Area • Wyoming had 460,000 sheep in 2002. Some sheep are kept on ranches. Their wool is used to make carpeting, clothing, and blankets. Others are sold for meat. • Factories in the West turn lumber into boxes, paper, furniture, pencils, toothpicks, building materials, and baseball bats. • 11.5 billion pounds of potatoes were grown in 2005 in Idaho. Idaho grows the most potatoes than any other state. • More than half of Idaho’s potatoes are turned into foods such as potato chips and frozen French fries. Every year, Americans consume about 130 pounds of potatoes per person. • More than 36,000 students have graduated from the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. • Ranchers raise cattle sold for beef. Montana’s ranches alone have 2.7 million cattle.
Free Time • The West is known as potatoes and meat country. A chuck wagon cookout serves barbeque. Ohio is famous for its potatoes. Some things that are made with potatoes are potato donuts, potato bread, and potato pancakes. • Kuchen is a sweet German cake topped with peaches, apples, or other fruit. It is the official dessert of South Dakota. • Westerners cook and eat a lot of different types of meat. They call it game. You can find deer meat, rabbit and even rattlesnake on restaurant menus. • Skiing, water rafting, and rodeos are fun to do in the West. Native American dancing is popular at festivals called Powwows. • Two famous authors from South Dakota are Frank Baum who wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Laura Ingles Wilder who wrote Little House on the Prairie.
Conclusion • In 2004, Yellowstone National Park was the sixth most visited national park in the United States. • Visiting Devil’s Tower feels like being very far away from cities. It is very rural-like with lots of open, grassy land. • The West has a lot of Native American traditions. The Westerners are proud of their history and look forward to sharing it with tourists. • There are many national parks, rural ranches, and farms, miners, and even a city here and there. • The west still attracts people who want to leave the city life behind.
Works Cited • Sally, Senzell, Isaacs. Regions of the United States: The West: Chicago, Illinois: Raintree, 2006.