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These methods proved slow and expensive, and they provided limited access to western lands.The railroad, or "iron horse," became a vital new travel option, especially after the 1860's.
Immigrant farmers initially skipped over most of the West, migrating instead to fertile valleys in California and Oregon by a variety of land and sea routes. victory in the Mexican War (1846-1848) gave the young nation vast new areas of land in the West.
Two events helped spur a much larger migration by 1849. Second, a gold rush in California in 1849 attracted droves of American fortune seekers called "Forty-Niners." The gold rush also attracted Chinese, Europeans, South Americans, and others, all hoping to strike it rich.
The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 authorized a transcontinental rail line.
The Union Pacific Railroad built this line westward from Omaha, Nebraska, and the Central Pacific Railroad built it eastward from Sacramento, California. On May 10, to mark the achievement, officials of the two railroads drove silver and gold spikes to join the rails.
Regardless of the precise boundary line used, the western frontier differed in many ways from the eastern United States.
Much of the West had a drier climate than that of the East, and western terrain often proved much harsher.Miners required food, equipment, clothing, services, and entertainment, so businesses competed to provide them.Miners needed pack animals as well as meat, so ranchers also benefited.For example, some ambitious Oregonians drove cattle south to the California gold mines. As more Americans pushed westward, new technologies assisted them.Before the 1850's, most people traveled westward by boat or wagon.In April 1860, a mail service called the pony express began carrying mail between St. The service's horseback riders usually made their long journey in about 10 days (see ).The telegraph soon ended the need for the pony express.The article will also look at conflicts between Native Americans and white settlers.Finally, it will examine the ways in which the West left its mark on American culture. Throughout the 1800's, America's frontier moved steadily westward.This instrument, the first used to send messages by means of wires and electric current, could transmit messages in minutes.Transcontinental telegraph service was established in 1861.