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The West, 1850-1900
Guide: The Era of the Cowboy

These resources describe the growth and decline of the era of the cowboy. Use these resources to help your students understand the challenges and opportunities that cowboys encountered. Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Time Period Key Understandings

  • Opportunities have been extended to certain groups of Americans while denied to other groups.
  • Social and economic changes due to technological advancement can have positive and negative effects.
  • Wealth can be used to influence people and politics in positive and negative ways.
  • Immigrants' decisions to leave their homeland are based on push and pull factors.
  • Organizations and people can advocate for and obtain social change.

Key Questions

  • Summarize the development of the cattle industry in the West. How did the rise of the cattle industry give way to cowboy life?
  • Describe the life of a typical cowboy. What challenges and opportunities did cowboys encounter? To what extent are romanticized versions of the cowboy's life accurate?
  • Identify the four major factors that led to an end to the golden age of the cowboy. Evaluate the factors; which one do you think had the biggest impact on the end of the cowboy profession?


  1. Overview: The Era of the Cowboy
  2. Visuals: The Era of the Cowboy (Visual)
  3. Outlines: Outline
  4. Transcripts: Transcript
  5. Lesson: Introduction
  6. Lesson: 1-Glory Days of the Cowboy
  7. Lesson: 2-Fictionalization of the Cowboy
  8. Lesson: 3-The Long Drive Comes to an End
  9. Lesson: Closing
  10. Glossary Terms: range wars
  11. Photos & Illustrations: Cattle round-up
  12. Photos & Illustrations: Chisholm Trail
  13. Photos & Illustrations: Dodge City peace commissioners
  14. Photos & Illustrations: Pony Express rider
  15. Reference Articles: Cattle Industry of the American West
  16. Reference Articles: Cattle Towns: Northwest
  17. Reference Articles: Cattle Towns: Southwest
  18. Reference Articles: Granger movement
  19. Political, Government & Court Documents: Carey Act (1894)
  20. Political, Government & Court Documents: Declaration of Purpose of National Grange (1874)
  21. Quotes: cattle drivers: quote on lawlessness and religion
  22. Maps: Cattle Trails, 1866-1886

MLA Citation

"The Era of the Cowboy." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Content/2153110?cid=256. Accessed 15 Oct. 2019.

Entry ID: 2153110

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