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5 7 heading west (social studies)

Fascinating Facts

Heading West

• Women were so rare during the California gold rush,
one man charged people who came to his wedding
five dollars just to see his bride.

• The chuck wagon used on cattle drives was named
for Charles “Chuck” Goodnight, a Texas rancher who
marked the Goodnight-Loving Trail with cattleman
Oliver Loving.

• Each rail for the transcontinental railroad weighed
seven hundred pounds, and it took five men to lift it
and fit it into place.

Genre

Nonfiction


Comprehension Skill

Sequence

Text Features

• Maps
• Captions

Scott Foresman Social Studies
ISBN 0-328-14909-8

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BY TAMMY ZAMBO


In the 1800s Americans east of the Mississippi
River began heading west. New territories in the
West were opening up and some people wanted
to settle them. In this book you will read about
what the pioneers’ journey was like. You will also
read about other events that changed the country
such as the gold rush, cattle ranching, and the
transcontinental railroad.

Write to It!
A pioneer’s journey was difficult, but exciting.
Write one or two paragraphs describing the part
of the trip that you would find most exciting.
Write your paragraphs on a separate sheet
of paper.

Vocabulary
pioneer
gold rush
entrepreneur
telegraph
technology
cattle drive

transcontinental railroad
Photographs

BY TAMMY ZAMBO

Every effort has been made to secure permission and provide appropriate credit for photographic material. The publisher deeply
regrets any omission and pledges to correct errors called to its attention in subsequent editions.
Unless otherwise acknowledged, all photographs are the property of Scott Foresman, a division of Pearson Education.
Photo locators denoted as follows: Top (T), Center (C), Bottom (B), Left (L), Right (R) Background (Bkgd)

ISBN: 0-328-14909-8
Copyright © Pearson Education, Inc.
All Rights Reserved. Printed in the United States of America. This publication is protected
by Copyright, and permission should be obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited
reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form by any means,
electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or likewise. For information regarding
permission(s), write to: Permissions Department, Scott Foresman, 1900 East Lake Avenue,
Glenview, Illinois 60025.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 V0G1 14 13 12 11 10 09 08 07 06 05

Opener: ©North Wind Picture Archives
2 ©Archives Charmet/Bridgeman Art Library
3 ©North Wind Picture Archives
4 ©Connie Ricca/Corbis
5 ©California Historical Society, 69-158-1-2
6 ©Corbis
8 ©Utah State Historical Society, SCL, Utah
9 ©Corbis
Editorial Offices: Glenview, Illinois • Parsippany, New Jersey • New York, New York
11 ©W.I. Hutchinson/Corbis
12 ©Corbis
Sales Offices: Needham, Massachusetts • Duluth, Georgia • Glenview, Illinois
13 ©ARP /Topham/The Image
Works,Texas
Inc. • Sacramento, California • Mesa, Arizona
Coppell,
14 ©Andrew Joseph Russel/Corbis
15 ©J.N. Templeman/Corbis


The Louisiana Purchase
Before 1804 the United States was made up of seventeen
states east of the Mississippi River. In 1804 President Thomas
Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore
new United States territory. This territory stretched west of the
Mississippi and was called the Louisiana Purchase. Americans
closely followed news of Lewis and Clark’s journey. Soon
many of them wanted to learn about the West for themselves.
A few men became beaver trappers in the West. They
became known as “mountain men,” and some of them grew
famous. As they
searched for
beavers for the
fur trade, they
also explored and
charted trails. These
were the trails that
other Americans
followed as they
moved west.

Pioneers began traveling to Oregon Territory in the 1840s.

Early Pioneers
By 1840 the beaver population had declined and some of
the mountain men returned to the East. Other mountain men
guided pioneers to California or Oregon Territory.
In the 1840s United States territory grew to include what
are now the states of Texas, Washington, Oregon, Idaho,
California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.
Easterners wanted to see these regions. More and more
Americans began heading west.

Jim Beckwourth,
a former enslaved
person, became a
mountain man.

2

3


On the Trail
Families traveled west in the spring from Nebraska or
Missouri, in groups called caravans. Each family had a
covered wagon, which was usually pulled by oxen. They
carried only basic supplies. Several trails took them to
California or the Northwest. Another trail took them to the
Southwest.
Most pioneers, including children, walked beside their wagon
every day. Their cows gave fresh milk. A churn attached to the
wagon made butter as the wagon bumped along.
The two-thousand-mile journey was difficult. The trip to
Oregon Territory took about five months. Pioneers faced bad
weather and poor trail conditions along with illness. Graves
could be seen along every trail.
The first gold nugget was found at this sawmill on the American River.

The Gold Rush

Thousands of covered wagons moved along the major pioneer trails. The ruts they
made can still be seen in some parts of the West.

In January 1848 a California construction worker spotted a
small nugget of gold on the ground. Word spread quickly, and
the gold rush was on. Soon people from California, the East,
and all over the world began to search for gold. Many of them
came in 1849, earning them the name “forty-niners.”
California’s cities were soon home to many people. There
were European Americans, African Americans (both enslaved
and free), and Native Americans. They came from the East
Coast, China, Germany, Ireland, Russia, Italy, the West Indies,
and Australia. Less than ten percent of them were women.

4

5


Making a Living

Building Businesses

Most people traveled to California by crossing the land in
covered wagons. Another route, by sea, went around the tip of
South America. Still another sea route went through Panama. It
was shorter but involved crossing the land by mule and canoe.
At first, miners searched for gold near the surface of the soil
with just a pick, shovel, or pan. By 1852 investors had set up
mining companies. Now heavy machinery drilled deep shafts
into the ground or blasted into hillsides.
Some forty-niners worked for the new mining companies.
Others headed home, searching for gold along the way.
Some found gold deposits in present-day Colorado. The city
of Denver sprang up as a result. Gold was also found in areas
that are now Montana, Oregon, New Mexico, Arizona,
and Nevada.

Some of the people who moved to California set up
businesses to serve the miners. One of these entrepreneurs
built a store right next to the sawmill where the first gold was
found. Other businessmen opened laundries or restaurants.
Women worked as entertainers, provided domestic services, or
operated boarding houses.
A few entrepreneurs became famous and wealthy. Levi
Strauss made the world’s first blue jeans, sturdy pants that
were good for miners. Philip Armour ran a meat market. He
later built a meatpacking empire in Chicago, Illinois. John
Studebaker made wheelbarrows. His family’s Indiana business
later made wagons and automobiles. Henry Wells and William
Fargo established banks and transported gold during the gold
rush.
California miners often
worked in groups.

7


The Pony Express
Forty-niners wanted news and letters from the East, but mail
could take months to arrive. The immigrants began to demand
faster service. Three entrepreneurs named William Russell,
Alexander Majors, and William Waddell were already hauling
supplies to settlers and military posts across the West. They
had the idea of setting up a business to carry the mail by horse
over a two-thousand-mile route in ten days or less.
The service, known as the Pony Express, began on
April 3, 1860. Its eighty riders were men and boys who
weighed between 100 and 120 pounds and knew the frontier
well. Each carried a mailbag over his saddle. The mail, printed
on thin tissue paper, weighed less than 10 pounds.
The Pony Express route ran from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California.

The Pony Express relied on brave men and boys.

Mail in Motion
Each Pony Express rider covered between seventy-five and
one hundred miles between stations. Horses were changed
every ten to fifteen miles. Sometimes a rider would arrive at
a station only to find that no rider was there to relieve him.
When this happened, the rider and sometimes the same horse
would ride on to the next station.

The Arrival of the Telegraph
The Pony Express operated for just eighteen months before
the telegraph put it out of business. This technology,
already used in the East, sent messages electrically along
wires in just minutes. On October 24, 1861, the extension of
telegraph lines to the West Coast was completed. Two days
later California newspapers noted that “Our little friend the
Pony is to run no more.”
8

9


A cattle drive was usually led by a trail boss and eight to
ten cowboys for a herd of between two thousand and three
thousand cattle. A cook drove the “chuck wagon.” A wrangler
took care of the cowboys’ horses. Most cowboys were
European American, but some were Mexican and African
American.
Cowboys had to keep the cattle calm and headed in the
right direction. This could be difficult because the cattle could
stampede at the slightest sound or unexpected movement.
Cowboys broke up stampedes and tracked down strays. They
also took turns keeping watch through the night, singing to
keep the cattle settled. It took months on the trail to reach their
destination.

Railroad
Cattle trail
Present-day
boundaries are shown

Cowboys drove herds of cattle from their ranches to railroad towns along
several trails.
The chuck wagon was designed to carry cooking utensils and
supplies, such as flour and spices.

The Long Drive
Even before people began heading to the far West,
thousands built cattle ranches on the wide open lands of Texas.
Ranchers, however, raised so many cattle that they needed
new markets.
The California gold rush was a good opportunity for Texas
ranchers. During the 1850s more than 100,000 cattle were
driven in herds from Texas to San Francisco. The peak of cattle
driving came after the Civil War as railroads began branching
further west. Cattle were now driven north from Texas to towns
in Missouri and Kansas. From there they were shipped by rail
to Chicago, Illinois.
10

11


A Changing Way of Life
Between 1865 and 1890, about ten million cattle were
driven north from Texas. Gradually, though, open grazing
lands were fenced off. Ranchers spread north into the prairies
of Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, and
Montana. Cattle drives shortened to just a few days, but
winters up north were snowy and cold. Cowboys had to find
grazing areas where the wind had blown away the snow.
They also had to chop holes in the ice so the cattle could get
water to drink. Sunlight on the snow blinded them and caused
the cowboys to get sunburned. Frost cracked their lips and
skin. The best days of the cowboy were over.

Driving cattle was a tiring and dirty business. “There was never
enough sleep,” one cowboy later remembered.

12

Railroad workers
sometimes had
to build large
bridges.

The Transcontinental Railroad
Settlers in the West wanted a transcontinental railroad
to be extended to the West Coast. Congress authorized
the railroad in 1862. Two companies raced to build it from
opposite ends of the country. The Union Pacific worked
westward from Omaha, Nebraska. The Central Pacific worked
eastward from Sacramento, California.
Union Pacific workers were mostly immigrants from Ireland,
but some were former Confederate soldiers, Mexicans,
Germans, English, and former enslaved people. As they
worked, they were sometimes attacked by Native Americans
who controlled the land.
Thousands of Central Pacific workers were Chinese who had
tried looking for gold in California. They had to blast tunnels
through mountains, which was a dangerous job.
13


Joining the Tracks
Planners did not know where the two railroad lines would
join. The competing teams of men who prepared the ground
for the track even passed each other. The two lines were
finally connected on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Point, Utah
Territory.

The transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869.

A family stands in front of their sod house.

Homesteading
In 1862 Congress passed the Homestead Act. This act
promised 160 acres of land to any person who claimed a plot,
or a homestead, on the Great Plains and farmed it for five
years. The act set off a new wave of pioneers, this time to
the Midwest.
Nearly two million people moved to the plains in the 1870s.
They built their houses out of sod and plowed fields. They dug
wells or walked to nearby streams for water. They hoped for
good weather to grow crops. When grasshoppers or hail or
drought destroyed the crops, they started over. They cared
for each other when they where sick or in need. They did
everything they could to survive.
14

15


In the 1800s Americans east of the Mississippi
River began heading west. New territories in the
Glossary
West were opening up and some people wanted
cattle
a wayIn
that
cowboys
move
to drive
settle them.
this
book you
willlarge
read herds
aboutof cattle
north
from
in Texas
to towns
along
railroads
what
theranches
pioneers’
journey
was like.
Youthe
will
also in
theread
late about
1800sother events that changed the country
such as the gold rush, cattle ranching, and the
entrepreneur a person who starts a new business, hoping to
transcontinental railroad.
make a profit
gold rush the sudden movement of many people to an area
where gold has beenVocabulary
found
pioneer an early settler ofpioneer
a region

Write to It!
A pioneer’s journey was difficult, but exciting.
Write one or two paragraphs describing the part
of the trip that you would find most exciting.
Write your paragraphs on a separate sheet
of paper.

gold
rush
technology the use of new
ideas
to make tools that improve
entrepreneur
people’s lives
telegraph a device that telegraph
sends messages through wires using
electricity
technology
transcontinental railroad
railroad that crosses
cattlea drive
a continent
transcontinental railroad
Photographs
Every effort has been made to secure permission and provide appropriate credit for photographic material. The publisher deeply
regrets any omission and pledges to correct errors called to its attention in subsequent editions.
Unless otherwise acknowledged, all photographs are the property of Scott Foresman, a division of Pearson Education.
Photo locators denoted as follows: Top (T), Center (C), Bottom (B), Left (L), Right (R) Background (Bkgd)

ISBN: 0-328-14909-8
Copyright © Pearson Education, Inc.
All Rights Reserved. Printed in the United States of America. This publication is protected
by Copyright, and permission should be obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited
reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form by any means,
electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or likewise. For information regarding
permission(s), write to: Permissions Department, Scott Foresman, 1900 East Lake Avenue,
Glenview, Illinois 60025.
16
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 V0G1 14 13 12 11 10 09 08 07 06 05

Opener: ©North Wind Picture Archives
2 ©Archives Charmet/Bridgeman Art Library
3 ©North Wind Picture Archives
4 ©Connie Ricca/Corbis
5 ©California Historical Society, 69-158-1-2
6 ©Corbis
8 ©Utah State Historical Society, SCL, Utah
9 ©Corbis
11 ©W.I. Hutchinson/Corbis
12 ©Corbis
13 ©ARP /Topham/The Image Works, Inc.
14 ©Andrew Joseph Russel/Corbis
15 ©J.N. Templeman/Corbis



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