The government passed a law called the Homestead Act. (see textbook page 298 for explanation of this law) The government also gave millions of acres to railroad companies. The railroad companies wanted more people to settle on the newly acquired land so they could get more business.
In this game, you will be placed in the position of someone traveling west during the 1800s. You will begin by choosing a character. Each character will have a different reason for traveling west. You will choose a destination. You will choose a mode of transportation. The character that you choose will affect which transportation you choose. You will be required to research each character, destination, and mode of transportation before choosing one.
Will your mode of transportation be correct? Will you choose the correct time period? Will your description of your character’s journey be accurate? In answering these questions, you will be researching a period in our country’s history known as Westward Expansion. During this period settlers, explorers, and prospectors traveled west for many reasons. Your job will be to learn about this period to get the most points possible.
Prospector (Gold Rush) Settler (Pioneer) Mountain Man (fur trapper)When you have finished reading about each character, click the screen to read about destinations.
California - People mostly came here in search of gold. Oregon Territory – People came here to hunt for furs and to take advantage of the fertile land and thick forests. The Great Plains – Many people settled here because the government was giving away land by way of the Homestead Act. The Southwest – This is where Santa Fe was located. Click to learn about transportation.
Now that you have read about the characters, destinations, and transportation, it’s time to choose your character. You will need to do a little more research on your character before deciding on a destination and mode of transportation. On your index card, write your name and the character that you have chosen. Then raise your hand and I will collect your card. Then you can begin finding more information about your character so you can make your other choices.Back to characters
Imagine that you have sold everything you own to take a chance on finding gold. You travel west for the chance of finding that chunk of gold and striking it rich!Click to learn about the Gold Rush.
After its discovery in 1848, gold in California became a magnet that pulled people from all over the world. Thousands left their families, jobs, farms and headed west to strike it rich. Learn more about it by clicking on the links below: All About the Gold Rush Gold Fever See page 392 in your textbook for more information. Back to Characters
Mountain men were hunters and trappers who worked in the mountains and beyond. They lived off the land and faced many dangers. Click below to find out more: Mountain Men Page American West Back to characters
Pioneers are the first settlers of the American West. They traveled west because they had hopes of buying their own land. See textbook, ch. 9, lesson 1 for more information.Click to learn about the Pioneers’ destinations.
The pioneers traveled Back to characters west for many different reasons. As result, their destinations were varied: California Oregon The Great Plains New Mexico If you choose to be a pioneer then you will need to choose your own destination.
Trains played one the Completing the most important roles in Transcontinental RR settling the West. In 1869, the first transcontinental railroad was completed and millions of people starting traveling west. To learn more about railroads, click the link to the right. (see page 394 Return to transportation in your text also)
Because our nation is filled with countless rivers and waterways, the steamboat was a very effective form of transportation. It allowed people to travel upstream much easier. See textbook, ch. 8, lesson 3 for more information. Return to transportation
Flatboats and keelboats allowed people to avoid the difficulties of traveling on land. The vast network of rivers could take travelers from the East to the far West. See textbook, ch. 8, lesson 3 for more information. Return to transportation
Settlers often used covered wagons to travel west. At “jumping-off places” pioneer families would gather and join up with a “wagon train”, or a group of wagons. To travel by wagon you’ll need to follow one of the trails. Click to see the trails.
The Oregon Trail The Santa Fe Trail California TrailReturn to transportation