4) Agriculture and Industrialization
Settlers of the Great Plains in the late nineteenth century developed large-scale dry-farming methods. These farming techniques required new farm equipment. As the equipment became available, more land came under cultivation between 1870 and 1900 than in the previous 250 years, bringing the American frontier to a close. Trains supported this agricultural boom. Railroads were necessary to transport the farms' harvests to the cities. At the same time, railroads also supported an industrial boom fueled by the exploitation of natural resources. Like farmers, mining and logging companies needed a way to transport their products to industrial centers and found their need met by trains.
Have students search on the names of states and cities that were either the sources of raw materials or the centers of industrial production. Students will see how these areas were serviced by rail lines.