The American West Essay

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These methods proved slow and expensive, and they provided limited access to western lands.

The railroad, or "iron horse," became a vital new travel option, especially after the 1860's.

During the early days of the frontier, a letter took months to travel from the Midwest to California.

But several developments soon made communication much faster.

This instrument, the first used to send messages by means of wires and electric current, could transmit messages in minutes.

Transcontinental telegraph service was established in 1861.As a result, immigrants to the West had to adapt and find new ways of doing things to survive.Their efforts were aided by improvements in transportation, communication, farm equipment, and other areas.For example, some ambitious Oregonians drove cattle south to the California gold mines. As more Americans pushed westward, new technologies assisted them.Before the 1850's, most people traveled westward by boat or wagon.Such companies as Montgomery Ward of Chicago could ship goods to westerners who had ordered them through the companies' mail order catalogs. In the 1880's, for example, wealthy easterners began boarding trains to spend time on dude ranches, which provided them a brief taste of western ranch life.New forms of communication also transformed the West.Regardless of the precise boundary line used, the western frontier differed in many ways from the eastern United States.Much of the West had a drier climate than that of the East, and western terrain often proved much harsher.Yet in the 1840's, immigrants to the West saw most of the region as an obstacle, not a destination.They feared the area's vast deserts, rugged mountain ranges, and many Indian tribes.


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