Learning Exercise

The Old West

The Old West uses primary sources to provide a more detailed understanding about the history of the Plains.
Course: U.S. History

This site features explanatory text with personal narratives and other first-hand sources accompanied by maps and photos... see more


When the web site comes on screen click Riding the Stage, 1861. Answer
Questions 1-8.
1. Name the contemporary figure that wrote this account about stage travel.
2. List the major stops on the stage route west and indicate how much the
ticket cost.
3. How often were horses changed?
4. What problems developed while traveling by stage?
5. What did passengers do when the stage made stops?
6. Describe the way station.
7. How long did the Pony Express last and what distance could a rider cover?
8. What role did wagon trains play in the development of the West and compare
the distance traveled by the stage with that of the wagon train?

Go back to the top. Go to the left hand column and click Crossing the Plains,
1865. Answer Questions 9-17
9. How long did it take for Europeans to settle from the Atlantic Ocean to the
Mississippi River?
10. How long did it take to settle the area between the Mississippi River to
the Pacific Ocean?
11. What motivated western settlement?
12. Who wrote the contemporary account for this episode about the West?
13. Explain the significance of "Eleven Graves."
14. What caused the death of travelers on the route?
15. How did the dust affect westward travel?
16. Why were their tolls on crossing rivers?
17. What is an 1865 dollar worth today?

Go back to the top. Go to the left column and click Battle with the Apache,
1872. Answer Questioins 18-25.
18. When was the American frontier officially closed?
19. What was the region between the Mississippi River and the Rockies called?
20. Who commanded the U.S. Army in the Plains after the Civil War?
21. What tactics did the army use against the Indians?
22. Describe the attack on an Apache fortress.
23. What happened to the Indians and why were they attacked in the first place?
24. Were the Indian deaths justified?
25. Who is the source of this article?

Go back to the top. Go to the left column and Click Custer's Last Stand.
Answer Questions 26-35.
26. Whywere the Sioux and Cheyenne angry with the U.S. government?
27. Why did the Indians leave their reservations?
28. What was Custer's assignment?
29. Who commanded the Indians?
30. What led to Custer's death, the massacre of his men, and could this have
been avoided?
31. What did the Indians do to the soldiers' bodies?
32. What does the Battle of the Little BigHorn symbolize?
33. What happened to Major Reno and why?
34. Who was George Herendon?
35. Identify the contemporary sources for this article.

Go back to the top. Go to the left column and click The Death of Billy the Kid,
1881. Answer Questions 36-40.
36. Describe the background of Billy the Kid and identify his real name.
37. How did he get involved in a life of crime?
38. How did he die, what was his age at the time of death, and who killed him?
39. What eventually happened to Pat Garrett?
40. Identify the contemporary source for this article.

Go back to the top. Go to the left column. Click A Cowboy in Dodge City, 1882.
Answer Questioins 41-47.
41. Where is Dodge City located and on what did the city's propserity depend?
42. Describe Dodge City.
43. What was the Lone Star Dance Hall?
44. What activities did cowboys participate in after the end of a cattle drive?
45. Name the members of the Dodge City Peace Commission.
46. Why were there gunfights and why was it so hard to keep the peace?
47. Identify the contemporary source for this article.

Go back to the top. Go to the left column. Click Massacre at Wounded Knee,
1890. Answer Questions 48-55.
48. What was the Ghost Dance?
49. What was the justification for the arrest of the Sioux chieftains?
50. Who was Colonel James Forsyth and what role did he play in the Wounded Knee
51. Why did the military attack?
52. Who was Frederick Remington and what was his role in the Wounded Knee
53. How long did the attack last?
54. What was the final outcome?
55. Identify the contemporary sources for this article.

Go back to the top. Go to the left column and Click Train Robbery, 1899.
Answer Questions 56-62.
56. Who were Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?
57. What led them to a life of crime?
58. What crimes did they commit?
59. How were Butch and Sundance regarded by their contemporaries?
60. Identify the contemporary source for this article.
61. What is the value in using contemporary (primary) source material?
62. How do you cite a web site in a bibliography?
Additional Information: None


Technical Notes

Basic computer skills.


A knowledge of United States history between 1865-1900.


Americas: United States 1865-1900, Biography, Military, Native Americans, Race/Ethnicity, Wars.

Learning Objectives

To provide students with a more accurate understanding about the settlement of the West and the conflict with the Plains Native American population