Impact the American Settlers had on the West

Essay by hologram88 October 2004

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Many settlers traveled to the West in the hope of becoming rich, acquiring free land, and securing new job opportunities. Settlers included Americans looking for a better life, as well as immigrants willing to work for low wages and dangerous conditions. There was both a positive and negative impact from the settlers moving west.

Mining brought those looking to "get rich quick." As they settled in "boom towns", activity flourished and businesses sprung up. These towns' people also abused the land by polluting river, cutting down forests and forcing Indians from their homes.

The Railroad also made progress with the need for transporting goods and people from the towns. Building the railroad was not an easy task. Immigrants worked the railroad for low pay and dangerous conditions, carving through the mountains and avalanches killing workers. The completion of the railroad however, encouraged more settlers to move west, more territories applied for statehood and it unified the country connecting the East and the West.

With the growth of towns and population came the need for more food. Ranchers and cowhands met the new demand by driving herds to rail lines and making them available for transport and sale. This new group of settlers learned the trade from Mexicans who knew a great deal about this dirty, tiring work.

One of the greatest opportunities for the settlers was The Homestead Act. It gave everyone a chance to own land and farm it. Unfortunately, as more land was obtained, Indians were driven off their land and they were forced to change their way of life.

As with any progress, there are always problems. Man must continually look for solutions, as he evolves and changes, to overcome and move forward.