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Ridin' the Rails: The Story of America's Railroads
Educator Overview

ABC-CLIO Database: American History
Time Period: Industrialization and Immigration, 1850-1900
Topic: Age of Railroads
Skill: Analyze
Process: Examine Cause and Effect

Inquiry Question: How did the transcontinental railroad impact the development and settlement of the American West?

Objectives: Students will analyze the reference entries and primary sources to explain how the railroad affected the development, settlement, and even geographic layout of the American West.

What students will discover in the sources: A reference entry on cattle towns in the northern plains of the United States illustrates the role of the railroad in shaping the U.S. economy. A photograph of a railroad car from the Armour Refrigerator Line demonstrates how the transcontinental railroad helped new industries, like meatpacking, grow and develop. An 1882 illustration of a bird's-eye perspective of Cheyenne, Wyoming, shows how the railroad influenced settlement patterns in the American West. An advertisement for the sale of land in Iowa and Nebraska demonstrates how railroad companies sold land at low prices to draw settlers westward and near railroads. And an 1871 print from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper highlights the railroad's impact on the hunting and slaughter of buffalo, which made Native Americans more vulnerable to encroachment by white settlers. Together, these sources help students explore the impact of the railroad on the settlement, development, and geographic shape of the American West.
MLA Citation

"Investigate: Ridin' the Rails: The Story of America's Railroads." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2020, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/InvestigateOverview/2228272. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.