I have everything & I am nowhere.
PLACES like Grand Central station became reachable through rail expansion that crossed the America West on the heels of the Civil War’s end. But the railways was not meant for people to travel. Foremost, the rail had another purpose.
By the 1870’s a fast-paced economic boom swelled, The Gilded Age roared and put plans into action across the country. From sea to shining sea, train tracks were laid out. The hope was the unification of space and with it any and all natural resources–oil, copper, gold and an endless potential for farming.
Movement of commodities over large distances would allow the United State to prosper. Between Indian raids, no infrastructure, motels, hotels, cafes and general understanding of what wild animals one might encounter, the west a hard destination to sell.
Home Sweet Home–1862
President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act in 1862. It signalled the government’s aim to expand its territory and, if everything went as hoped, to not be bothered by border disputes.
The Gilded Age of the 1870’s saw an influx of immigrants that flooded in from Europe. As the lowest wage earners, the new arrivals were eager to exchange risks they endured for the possibility of abundance.
Some of the 160-acre settlements they were handed by the government were in harsh, dry climates. Places like Nevada were the most challenging. Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma and parts of Illinois were not much easier.
These were prairie lands. The well-rooted grasses that grew were nearly impossible to unearth by hand making planting a sizable farm havoc. Due to their dry nature, fires were common during the summer months.
Hard times came to an abrupt halt when the combustible engine churned out the first tractors. This gave farmers the ability to overtake the natural world. For years they conquered the soil with seed.
By the 1930’s Prairie’s soil had been so badly battered and thoughtlessly mishandled, a strong wind passed and kicked off the Dust Bowl.
It lasted for six long years.