The sweep of Westward Expansion on the northern plains is embodied in the explorers, trappers, Native Americans and military who shaped its history. George Armstrong Custer, Teddy Roosevelt, Sitting Bull, Lewis & Clark, Crazy Horse and Sacagawea, Calamity Jane, Wild Bill Hickock. The list is a long one. The Missouri River fur trade was instrumental in opening the West for settlers to follow. Spurred by a fickle European fashion trend (the beaver top hat), the French, British, and eventually American, entrepreneurs pushed upstream, established trading relationships with the Natives and unwittingly gave birth to a new American character: the Mountain Man.
The Industrial Revolution was a transforming movement in world history but its ramifications spread far beyond mechanization and newly available manufactured goods. It created great cities in Europe and the New World and opened up career opportunities for farm boys (and girls) never before possible. But this revolution wasn’t confined to urban factories and mills. In the third quarter of the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution arrived on the Plains in the form of large-scale, mechanized farms – so vast that managers of different sections communicated by telegraph – designed to fill the cars of the overextended railroads with much-needed cargo. Read more
Nearly every hamlet east of the Missouri River in Dakota Territory was founded during what has come to be called the Great Dakota Boom by stony-faced settlers, mostly immigrants, who endured incredible hardships in their determination to conquer the land. Civilization had come to the prairie, and though the process took less than a century it was a hard-won achievement. Various dates are given by historians for the Great Dakota Boom. Some place its beginning as early as 1873, and its ends as late as 1889. However, the years 1878-1887 are most commonly recognized as the period of greatest growth, with 1883 being its peak. Read more
When the prairie was plowed, the towns settled, the children raised and the husband off to work, how did married women – who, by society’s edict, were not allowed to labor outside the home - keep their sanity? They formed clubs- all kinds of clubs. Culture clubs, travel clubs, literary societies, church guilds, temperance unions, ladies aid societies. Read more
Travel industry veteran Shebby Lee’s monthly travel blog covers a wide range of topics relating to travel, events, destinations and the history of the Great American West.