1870 - Hundredth Meridian crossed by homesteaders

Homesteaders cross the 100th meridan onto the arid plains

             By 1870, the hundredth meridian - a north-south line running across the high plains that marked the eastern boundary of the arid West, had been crossed by farmers.  The dense black earth of the plains was now being turned under the plow, and a great flood of humanity poured in across the unmapped portions of the west that were still marked as Indian territory on official maps. 

Homesteaders Crossing Indian Lands

    Homesteaders headed into the arid West - a country with little moisture and poor soil.

         Homesteaders crossed the 100th meridian, an isohyte boundary between aridity and plentiful rain which too often marked the difference between success and failure.

click here for more

         Pushed west by withering droughts in the East, potato famine Irish swept over the plains like a human tsunami.  In a blink of time, wrote Hamlin Garland, a homesteader in Iowa, "all the wild things died or hurried away, never to return.  The tender plants, the sweet flowers, the fragrant fruits, the busy insects, prairie wolves...all of the swarming lives which had been native here for countless centuries, are gone."