Section 4 Farming in the West
-During the Civil War, Congress passed the Homestead Act of 1862. This offered 160-acre plot to anyone who lived on the land for five years.
-Homesteaders are settlers who acquired free land from the government.
-Railroads promoted more farming than did the Homestead Act.
-The railroads gave away some of the 180 million acres they got from the government.
A Hard Life on the Plains
-The first farmers on the eastern Plains staked out sites near water and trees.
-Later arrivals continued on the treeless prairie.
-The Great Plains had fertile land, but they were covered by a thick layer of sod.
-Sod is a surface layer of earth in which the roots of grasses tangle with soil.
A Last Rush for Land
-On April 1889, nearly 100,000 people gathered at a line near present day Oklahoma City. They had come to claim 2 million acres of free homesteads in what was once Indian Territory.
-At noon, a volley of gunfire signaled the start of the Oklahoma Land Rush.
-In 1890, the national census reported that the United Sates no longer had land available for homesteading.
-Small farmers were hit the hardest by low grain prices.
-Many farmers lived in poverty and isolation.
-In 1867, local granges joined to form the National Grange.
-Granges are groups of farmers who met for lectures, sewing bees, and other events