Westward ho! By the early 1800s, many settlers had come to the West Coast. Some came through Alaska and Mexico, while others crossed the Pacific. Lewis and Clark had crossed America and reached the Pacific.
The Gold Rush started in 1848. It lured many prospectors, or miners hoping to discover gold or other valuable minerals. These fortune-seekers crossed the Donner Pass into California. But Native Americans still lived in most of the West. They were the West’s main residents.
Moving out West was hard for settlers. One problem was how long it took to get there. Another was how hard it was to go so far from the people and ways of life settlers already knew. Railroads made the West easier to reach. They let settlers and businesspeople develop new lands. The West promised a new life. It offered new hope for the poor and for people seeking to escape discrimination. Discrimination is bad treatment based on color, religion, or other reasons.