Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Ch. 13, Daily Life 1849-1900, Mining/Section 3, Settling On the Great Plains

Chapter 13 Daily Life (1849-1900), Mining: Some Struck It Rich—Most Struck Out

To summarize the role of gold in luring people to the American West.
To describe people’s experiences in their often fruitless efforts to find gold.

Focus & Motivate
Starting With the Student
Students might be interested to know that the phrase strike it rich originated during the American gold rush of 1849. The term was later generalized to include other sources of quick wealth.
Discuss natural resources other than gold that figure in modern American dreams of striking it rich (oil, precious stones, such as diamonds).

More About . . .
Placer Mining
The word placer comes not from the English word place, but from the Spanish word placer, which means “sandbar,” one of the places that placer deposits are found. Placer deposits are created when gold-bearing rock is eroded and the particles are washed downstream. Because gold is heavier than other minerals, it is deposited more quickly, often in places like sandbars, where the current of the stream slows down.

Discussing Key Ideas
In the second half of the 19th century, the possibilities of finding gold draws many people to the American West.
Few succeed in this dangerous pursuit of wealth.

History From Visuals
Reading the Images
What do you think life is like in the Cripple Creek placer mining camp? What aspects of the photograph suggest these things to you?
Have any students ever been inside a mine? What was the experience like? Do you think you would be able to tolerate the dangers, the heat, poor air, and close quarters in the interior of the earth?
A pan demonstrates how sand and water works in mining.

More About . . .
Mining Hazards
In very deep mines, the pressure within the rock built to such levels that the rock itself exploded, killing miners with flying debris. Miners were also notoriously careless with the copper blasting caps they used to set off dynamite. When children found the caps, their attempts to explore the inside could set off an explosion. In some mining camps, an average of one boy a week lost fingers in such mishaps.

Section 3, Settling On the Great Plains
To explain the rapid settlement of the Great Plains after they were opened for homesteading.
To describe how early settlers met the challenges of surviving on the plains and transformed them into profitable farmland.

Interpreting Charts, p. 398

Critical Thinking

Focus & Motivate
Starting With the Student
· Think about the students who set the trends in the school and what qualities they have in common.
· Which of these qualities do they think were shared by pioneers on the Great Plains?

Objective 1, Instruct
Settlers Flock Westward to Farm
Discussing Key Ideas
· Transcontinental railroads open up the West for settlement.
· The government encourages settlement by offering free land.
· Thousands of settlers respond, including African Americans, and European immigrants.
· In response to the rapid disappearance of open land, the government sets aside some public land to preserve the wilderness.

More About. . .
Building the Railroads
On the Central Pacific line, over 90% of the labor force, about 12,000, were Chinese. They labored under extremely difficult conditions—including avalanches and 40-foot snowdrifts—for as little as $35 a month. White workers often received $40 to $60 a month—plus board and lodging.

History From Visuals
Reading the Photo
What can you tell about the people in the photograph? Think about:
· the way they are dressed
· their posture and expressions
· the setting.

More About. . .
Yellowstone National Park
Fueled by General Washburn’s enthusiasm for the natural wonders near the Yellowstone River, Congress created the country’s first national park there in 1872. Four more national parks were created in the 1890s—Yosemite, Sequoia, and General Grant (now King’s Canyon) in California, and Mount Rainier in Washington. The Army controlled Yellowstone National Park from 1886 until 1916 when the National Park service was established.

Objective 2 Instruct
Settlers Meet the Challenges of the Plains
Discussing Key Ideas
The settlers’ first task is to provide shelter for themselves on the treeless prairies.
Pioneer women do much of the work of feeding, clothing, and sustaining their families.
New technology and farming methods help tame the prairie.
Many farmers go into debt investing in technology and transporting their grain to market.

History From Visuals
Inventions That Tamed the Prairie
Reading the Chart
Be sure to understand that you should read the chart from the bottom to the top—that each prairie problem led to a difficult farming condition, which, in turn, was solved by a particular invention.

You could research the types of agricultural technology used today, such as computer-controlled operations, fertilizers, and insecticides.

More About. . .
John Deere
In 1837, John Deere (1804-1886), a blacksmith, invented the steel plow. He used an old circular steel saw as the basis of his plow. As the plow turned, the heavy, sticky prairie soil fell away cleanly from the blade. Deere initially used hard steel manufactured in England, but then had Pittsburgh steel makers create similar steel. This invention was so popular that he was producing 10,000 plows a year by 1857.

More About. . .
Bonanza Farms
The labor needed to plow and harvest the bonanza farms was seasonal. A farm that required only a few hands most of the year might need 150 men for the April plowing and 400 men for fall harvesting. Harvesting crews moved from one farm to another, from south to north, during the summer. According to the writer Hamlin Garland, ”They reached our neighborhood in July, arriving like a flight of alien unclean birds, and vanished into the north as mysteriously as they had appeared.”

Although many farmers successfully met the challenges of the plains, they lost money in the process. They needed to organize to solve common problems.

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