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[Detail] Yosemite National Park, Mirror Lake and Mt. Watkin

6. Westward Expansion

This collection offers the opportunity to examine Americans' movement west as both a search for more natural resources and a story of ecological and environmental change. Browse the State Index to see images of western states. Included are many vivid images of national parks and landscapes. Compare these images of western landscapes with those of eastern landscapes. What natural resources and opportunities are available? What are the environmental features of the landscapes and the state of the built environments of each region?

  • What resources were factories such as this dependent upon for operation?
  • Were these resources readily available? Who controlled the availability of these resources? Were they affordable to those who needed them?
  • Why might these factors have led to the exploitation of western resources?

Some images illustrate the changes wrought upon the physical landscape by westward expansion. For example, search on San Francisco to see images of this city whose population exploded after the discovery of gold in California in 1848.

  • What evidence is there of civilization's impact on the natural environment? Draw a picture of how you think this area would have looked before the effects of civilization.
  • How are people using this area? For residential usage? Industrial usage?
  • Is there evidence of attempts to conserve and preserve the landscape?
  • What hindrances and opportunities does the landscape present for industrial development?
Golden Gate Heights, CA.

Golden Gate Heights, Aerial View, San Francisco, CA.

Caption Below

Edison Electric Plant, Quincy, MA, 1921.

San Gabriel Valley, CA

San Gabriel Valley, San Gabriel, CA.