Unit 2: Westward Expansion
Frameworks for America's Past

Click on the links below - 

  Teacher / Student Key: pages
25 - 40

Maps - Westward Expansion of the U.S.

History - and a love story! - in primary source documents:
Homestead Act land certificate & a pioneer family

Historical photo sets

1.  Great Plains geography

2.  Why people went west

3.  Settling the Plains - inventions and adaptations

4.  Beef cattle raising in the West

5.  Impact on Indians: Reservations and conflicts

6.  Impact on Indians: Assimilation

History food feature
Stewed Rabbit - A Frontier Meal  (This short video shows how to cook a meal that settlers of the West often ate.)
YouTube videos
and Internet sites

Students: Check with your parents for permission before visiting Internet links.
The Great Plains - land & wildlife  (a short video with great photos of the land and its creatures)

Cutting sod, plowing land, planting seeds the old way  (a short video that shows how it was done on homestead farms of the West)

Old steam powered thresher for wheat  (a short video that shows the machine used in the old days to separate the wheat from the straw.  It also shows an old steam tractor and a sawmill.)

Wheat harvest in Kansas (2010)  (a video showing a large, modern version of the reaper.  It is called a combine because it combines a reaper with a thresher, which separates the wheat from the stalks.)

Maps - Wheat production: 1839 - 1859 - 1889 - 1919  (from an online historical atlas)

The Impact of the Homestead Act  (a short video overview)

The Transcontinental Railroad  (a short video produced by the Union Pacific Railroad company)

Maps - Railroads: U.S. Railroads in Operation 1870 -
Western Railroads 1880 - Western Railroads 1930  (from an online historical atlas)

Texas Longhorn cattle  (a short video shows a parade in San Antonio, recalling the cowboys and cattle drives of long ago)

Maps - Cattle production: 1860 - 1890  (from an online historical atlas)

Code of the West  (a web page about the code of honor for men and women in the Old West - a code as valid today as it was then)

Indian Reservations maps:  1840 - 1875 - 1900 - 1930 
(from an online historical atlas)

The Nez Perce - A people in exile  (a short video about the Nez Perce today, with a brief account of Chief Joseph)


Days of '49  (an old folk song about the California Gold Rush, with some good photos.  A "bummer" is slang for a man who drifts from town to town, without work.  The "bummer's shore" was the West Coast of the Gold Rush era.  A "gin sot" is a drunk.)
Mainly for teachers My Antonia, by Willa Cather   You can read this famous American novel in this online edition, or find a copy at any library or bookstore.  It tells the story of Americans and immigrants who settled the Great Plains in the decades after the Civil War.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright 2009, 2016 by David Burns.  All rights reserved.  As a guide to the Virginia Standards of Learning, some pages necessarily include phrases or sentences from that document, which is available online from the Virginia Department of Education.  The author's copyright extends to the original text and graphics, unique design and layout, and related material.