Trans RR, Closing/farming plains

By: Grady Reynolds, Kelsey Rhine, Hannah Ragsdale

Closing the Plains (Cattle, Cowboys, and Beef Barons)

The closing of the plains was the end to the cattle drive era. When the cattle drives had begun to slow down farmers and rancher began using an invention called barbed wire to enclose their land with prevented their cattle from roaming around or getting lost. Instead of being a short term job driving cattle Cowboys became more permanent rather than contract work. Around 5 million longhorn roamed freely in Texas after the civil war and they ere hunted for their hides and meat. Beef was in high demand after the war had depleted the herd. These longhorn were descendants from the Old Spanish stock. A cowboys job was to herd the cattle and tend to them. Being a cowboy was extremely dangerous considering there was no medical treatment. Cattle began getting diseases, with led to a decrease in profit for the farmers and cowboys. In 1869 G.H Hammond shipped slaughtered beef in the first air conditioned train car. Because of this, perishable foods no longer had to be produced locally and beef barons provided new Jobs and supported other businesses.

Transcontinental Railroad

Abraham Lincoln was a huge supported of the railroad, it was implemented during the beginning of his presidency and was finished 4 years after his death. The railroad cut down travel time and danger of riding in wagon trains. To build the railroad over an easy grade the amount paid was $32k per mile, the amount to build in the mountains was $48k per mile. The railroad was open to through traffic on May 10th, 1869, the same day that the final spike was hammered into the ground.

Farming The Plains

When the colonists started Manifest Destiny and moved toward westward expansion, it opened up many different opportunities, one of these things being new farming land. Although there was potential for this being a great addition to the farm land and the economy, it hurt more than it helped. Farming was a long hard process, because the soil had never been cut by a plow, and the prairie grass covered the plains, which made it difficult to plow. Often times the iron plows broke because the soil was too hard, and the crops that they were used to planting would not grow because the climate was way to hot. Along with it being too hot, there was no source of water or irrigation to keep the crops alive; and with no crops, there is no income. Sometimes people were able to grow enough to feed their families, but still not enough to make an income off of. Farmers on lots of land were able to grow enough to sell, but the animals trampling the crops and the plague of grasshoppers made it difficult to make enough to really make a difference. Along with these issues, the winters were too cold and the summers were too hot for most crops to survive, farming the plains turned out to be much more difficult and hurtful than what was originally thought.

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