Monday, July 18, 2011

Cows and Farms!

Some people didn't want the glamorous life of tunneling into the Earth to possibly be killed by cave ins and what not, so they went with a different business that was moooooo-ving on up!

After the Civil War lots of Eastern cities were asking an age old question...

Well my friends, the beef was out west.

Were they willing to sell?

Oh, yes they were.

A cow that would sell for $4 bucks in Texas would go for $40 in the north. Thats crazy.

Ranchers would hire cowboys to herd their cattle, then they would be sent to meat packing places like Chicago, via railroads and everything was sanitary....I promise.

Some people weren't taken in by the gold rush, others took Willie Nelson's advice and their mothers did not let them grow up to be cowboys. Instead, they went the farming route.

The Homestead Act was passed so people would go and settle the Great Plains.

This Act said that any head of household who was 21 and over claim 160 acres of land.

They also had to...

And also stay there for at least 5 years, maintain the land and then the land was theirs!

Along with the Homestead Act was the Pacific Railway Act, this allowed railroads and telegraph lines to be built.

Also, the Morrill Act set aside land for states to build colleges for agriculture and mechanic arts. These schools include the Big 10 schools, like the University of Illinois. Go Illini!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hurry Everyone! There's Gold!

Well, now that those pesky Indians are learning to love Toby Keith and Wrangler jeans, lets check in on the white folk.

Since the first white man set foot on America, they had been searching for one thing.

No, no no, not religious freedom, not freedom from persecution or anything like that, but, GOLD!

Sparkly, rich gold!

Well, the 1849 California Gold Rush sent people into a tizzy, they headed west to find fortune.

They hit up Idaho, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, and even the Black Hills in the Dakotas, where you can still find really awful gold jewelry, and probably women with teased hair.

Most people who set out looking for riches were disappointed, but some got pretty lucky. In Nevada, the Comstock Lode was found, over the next 20 years, $500 million of silver was mined.

The Gold Rush even spread North to our friends in Canada.

Along the Klondike River, named for delicious ice cream bars, in the Yukon Territory, gold was found.

Over 100,000 Americans set out North to get theirs. What most of them got was hypothermia.

Most prospectors were men and would set up camps, you know, safety in numbers...

Well there was no law and since these guys were competing for gold, sometimes things weren't all sunshine and rainbows...

Of course, mining was hard work, so as Americans we decided to try and make it easier.

One method was Hydraulic Mining.

This sent high pressured water to blast away dirt and would expose the minerals.

The problem with this is it caused floods.

Then there was Hard-rock mining. This cut deep shafts in solid rock to extract the things inside. You could also buy a $10 burger at their cafe.

As you might imagine, mining was pretty dangerous, especially if you were a canary.