The Wild West - Table of Contents
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.
Welcome to the world of the cowboy, the cattleman, the Native American Indian, the homesteaders, and the dreamers. This page is dedicated to all those who traveled West in search of a better life, with more land, and fresher air.
This exodus began in 1841, when people flocked to Independence, Missouri, and prepared to go across 2,000 miles of rough terrain to California and Oregon, on what was known as the Oregon Trail. There were poor people looking to make a better life. They had to save $700-1,500 to buy all the supplies, horses, mules, wagons, firearms, and housewares necessary for this long haul. There were also rich men who went there to start up banks, saloon, hotels, general stores, and other civilized necessities.
The Homestead Act of 1862 offered land for a filing fee of $10.00 and a possible claim to 160 acres. All they had to do was live on the land and farm it for five years. More land could then be bought for $1.25 an acre.
Many experienced hardships, on these journeys, as wagon trains conquered many a river, and mountain. Many died of sickness and injuries. It was hard work, to make the land viable and fertile, and many returned to the East defeated. Those that stayed had to make their own way in the early days of lawlessness and strife. They fought native tribes, and lives were lost on both sides, as culture shock made them fear those who were different. Many were sorry, and wished they could have turned back the clock and did it right. They made mistakes, but don't we all. Many settlers later developed a bond with the cultures of the natives and the Mexican/Spanish. Today the West is a rich blend of all cultures, living together in peace. Explore the "Old West" today.
They came to find a new frontier. They found a harsh land of rugged beauty and they called it the "Wild Wild West." The wagon train was the means by which most traveled. Westward Ho the Wagons!!!
Artist of the Crazy Horse Monument _ K. Ziolkowski