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Technology on the Plains Kirsten graphics and text revised from:

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1 Technology on the Plains Kirsten graphics and text revised from:

2 Living on the Great Plains presented many challenges. The winters were bitter cold. There were few rivers and streams for water, and few trees for wood. Low rainfall caused drought and dust storms. Fierce winds and frequent dust storms eroded and blew away the soil. The remaining tough soil was thought to be unsuitable for farming. Before the Civil War, the Great Plains were considered a "treeless wasteland

3 Before 1860, those who crossed the Mississippi generally traveled all the way to the west coast. Few settled in the Great Plains. Encouraged by the Homestead Act of 1862 which gave willing farmers land on the Great Plains, and new technologies which allowed people to live in more challenging environments.

4 Technological advancements allowed people to live in more challenging environments. People began to perceive the Great Plains not as a treeless wasteland but as a vast area to be settled. Some of the innovations and technologies that encouraged settlement of the Great Plains and help people adapt to the challenging environment of the Great Plains were:

5 Transcontinental Railroad It linked the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and opened the vast interior to people who wanted to settle there. The railroad made trade between different parts of the country easier, encouraging industrial and economic growth. 1869 completed

6 John Deeres Steel Plow

7 Pulled by oxen or horses, it ripped through the dense sod uncovering the thick black soil. This was still hard work because the thick prairie grasses had long roots that extended deep into the soil. But the steel plow was superior to the cast iron plows that were made for New England's sandy soil.

8 Windmills, Water pumps Most water is deep underground Steady winds on the great plains made windmills a useful power source

9 Barbed Wire Fence The invention of barbed wire allowed farmers to keep cattle from nearby ranches off their fields and away from their crops. In a region with little wood, barbed wire fences were cheap and easy to build. Invented by Joseph Glidden in 1874

10 Sod Houses Lacking trees and other materials, settlers on the Great Plains built their homes from sod, a sort of packed dirt held together by roots and cut into squares.

11 What do you see?




15 MANY OTHER PROBLEMS Grasshoppers ate everything in their path - crops, grass, and even fences and axe handles.


17 WEATHER WOES Tornados, hailstorms, drought, bitter cold winters, blazing heat in the summer. Drought could lead to grass fires

18 The pioneering spirit of the Greater Plains settlers created farms that fed the nation. They overcame difficulties with new inventions and faced many hazards and obstacles.

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