|Opening the West||Previous||Next|
|Digital History ID 3252|
It took Americans a century and a half to expand as far west as the Appalachian Mountains, a few hundred miles from the Atlantic coast. It took another 50 years to push the frontier to the Mississippi River. By l830 fewer than 100,000 pioneers had crossed the Mississippi.
Only a small number of explorers, fur trappers, traders, and missionaries had ventured far beyond the Mississippi River. These trailblazers drew a picture of the American West as a land of promise, a paradise of plenty, filled with fertile valleys and rich land. During the l840s, tens of thousands of Americans began the process of settling the West beyond the Mississippi River. Thousands of families chalked GTT ("Gone to Texas") on their gates or painted "California or Bust" on their wagons, and joined the trek westward. By l850, pioneers had pushed the edge of settlement all the way to Texas, the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean.