Westward Expansion 1860-1890

Westward expansion forms part of American history since it was during this period that United States acquired territories from Great Britain and Frances. Although Westward expansion begun in early 18th century, this paper focused on the expansion that took place in 1860-1890. It was during this period that railway line expanded westwards. During this period, also major cities was built in the westward site (Ozdogon). Looking at the interactive map, it is clear that during this period, westward expansion changed the American shape. This was the period that west part of the American society was opened up. The fast land in the west was utilized for agricultural purposes and more cities and towns in the east was connected by the railway line. Westward expansion was very necessary because the population was growing and American people needed to move and occupied areas in the west that were not occupied.

In addition to expansion of railway line, construction of communication line and mushrooming of cities was taking place during this period. This means more food was needed to feed the increasing population and it’s during this period that arable land in the west was occupied and people started practicing agriculture in large scale and small scale. Also, major roads were constructed during this period in order to ease the movement of people and products into the market. With the construction of transcontinental railway line that connected different states from the East to the West, more factories were also constructed along the railway line (Bilington & Ridge). Factories created employment opportunities and people started migrating from the East to the West to look for employment opportunities. Since more construction materials were needed during period, more steel companies were constructed in the Western region. This was followed by big cities along the railway line since the connection between these cities was made possible by the railway line.   

During 1861-1865, expansion of agriculture and processing industries was tremendous, thus making agriculture one of the lucrative industry. Most people depended on the agriculture to support their live hood and more needed food because the population was increasing rapidly. It was notable that the economy of States in the westward region and Northeast of America prowess during this period. The growth in economy was attributed to expansion in agriculture and industrial growth. It is the Southern region of the country that agriculture dominated. While the Northeast region was dominated by the industries and raw materials was supplied from the Midwest and Western region of the country. The movement of raw materials was made possible by the railway line.

The railway line that connected every city in the North and Midwest was constructed in 1860s. The main line was subsidized by the government and short lines the link the cotton growing areas were constructed by the farmers. Analysis indicated that most of the farms were located 5 miles apart from the railway line, thus making the exportation of agricultural product possible (Ozdogon). It was easier for the farmers to construct short linkage railway line because they could access leaned railway bond and finances from the Wall Street. It is important to understand that local, state and federal government subsidized the railway but never owned it. This made the management and maintenance of the line effective. By 1890, the railway lines were consolidated to form 20 trunk lines.

It is important to understand that expansion of railway line westwards in early 1860s was slow because the Southern States were against the move. However, after 1862 secession the pacific railway act was passed and the construction of transcontinental railway begun and was completed in 1869. The construction of transcontinental railway line made it possible for people to travel from New York City to San Francisco within six days. Three main railway lines were constructed during this period: Northern Pacific was constructed in Canadian border, while Southern Pacific and the Santa Fe were constructed in the Great Northern and South. This resulted to increased settlement in the west since people could access cheap land at a cheaper price and on credit (Bilington & Ridge). In addition, the western region was rich in minerals and farmers produce wheat in large quantities. Some farmers practiced cattle rearing and their produced fetched market from the northern region. During 1890s, the construction of railway lines was financed by the funds from the northern region. Another notable thing that was observed during this period was that the railway line was modern in terms of gauge and construction technology. Since the craftsmen and engineers were brought from the northern. In conclusion, the construction of railway to the westward played important role in ensuring that New York City and San Francisco was connected. Along the railway line many cities and industries were also constructed. The economic growth in the West was propelled by the completion of the transcontinental railway line. Farmers were able to transport their farm produce into the international market and many manufacturing industries also exported their products.

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