History of the United States eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 731 pages of information about History of the United States.

“Other desert regions have been redeemed by irrigation—­Egypt, for example, and Mesopotamia and parts of the Sudan—­but the people of all those regions lay stretched out in the shade of a convenient palm, metaphorically speaking, and waited for some one with more energy than themselves to come along and do the work.  But the Arizonians, mindful of the fact that God, the government, and Carnegie help those who help themselves, spent their days wielding the pick and shovel, and their evenings in writing letters to Washington with toil-hardened hands.  After a time the government was prodded into action and the great dams at Laguna and Roosevelt are the result.  Then the people, organizing themselves into cooeperative leagues and water-users’ associations, took up the work of reclamation where the government left off; it is to these energetic, persevering men who have drilled wells, plowed fields, and dug ditches through the length and breadth of that great region which stretches from Yuma to Tucson, that the metamorphosis of Arizona is due.”

The effect of irrigation wherever introduced was amazing.  Stretches of sand and sagebrush gave way to fertile fields bearing crops of wheat, corn, fruits, vegetables, and grass.  Huge ranches grazed by browsing sheep were broken up into small plots.  The cowboy and ranchman vanished.  In their place rose the prosperous community—­a community unlike the township of Iowa or the industrial center of the East.  Its intensive tillage left little room for hired labor.  Its small holdings drew families together in village life rather than dispersing them on the lonely plain.  Often the development of water power in connection with irrigation afforded electricity for labor-saving devices and lifted many a burden that in other days fell heavily upon the shoulders of the farmer and his family.

MINING AND MANUFACTURING IN THE WEST

=Mineral Resources.=—­In another important particular the Far West differed from the Mississippi Valley states.  That was in the predominance of mining over agriculture throughout a vast section.  Indeed it was the minerals rather than the land that attracted the pioneers who first opened the country.  The discovery of gold in California in 1848 was the signal for the great rush of prospectors, miners, and promoters who explored the valleys, climbed the hills, washed the sands, and dug up the soil in their feverish search for gold, silver, copper, coal, and other minerals.  In Nevada and Montana the development of mineral resources went on all during the Civil War.  Alder Gulch became Virginia City in 1863; Last Chance Gulch was named Helena in 1864; and Confederate Gulch was christened Diamond City in 1865.  At Butte the miners began operations in 1864 and within five years had washed out eight million dollars’ worth of gold.  Under the gold they found silver; under silver they found copper.

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History of the United States from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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