Students watch a video about the impact railroad land grants had in the Midwest. Students discuss how the railroad grants influenced migration to North Dakota.
This lesson is part of "Great States: North Dakota | Unit 5: Settling North Dakota" - a study of how and why North Dakota attracted diverse settlement.
4.2.4: Use chronological order and sequence to describe the cause-and-effect relationships of historical events and periods in North Dakota (e.g., how the railroads led to settlements in the state)
4.2.9: Explain reasons for settlement in North Dakota (e.g., railroads, Bonanza farms, Homestead Act)
- Video: Homesteading - Railroad Land Grants
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or other type of screen to project videos to the class
Tell students they will be watching a short video about the impact of the Homestead Act and Pacific Railroad Act. Explain that President Abraham Lincoln signed the acts in hopes of constructing the transcontinental railroad and spreading settlement west.
Play the video, Homesteading - Railroad Land Grants [1:15].
As a class discussion, ask students:
Why did our government decide to award land grants to railroads?
How do you think the railroad grants influenced migration to North Dakota?
Points to listen for in class discussion:
The government knew that transcontinental transportation was crucial for economic development and political cohesion. [0:25]
Our government was land rich but cash poor because of the ongoing Civil War. [0:41]
So, they granted land to railroad companies so they would build them across the nation. [0:19]
Providing land to railroad companies, and inducing the development of transcontinental railroads, meant there was an easier, more affordable way to travel out west. Before railroads, new settlers and the goods they needed to survive had to travel west by oxcart and wagon. New railroads allowed for more people to migrate west, including to North Dakota.