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As you examine the context of this book, it is important to first examine the role it was meant to play according to the author. Wrobel strives to address the memory which people so adamantly attach to the past “West” as well as how it has affected their perceptions today. It is through this cognitive process which guides people to recreate the image of the new West.
West of the Mississippi is considered the West due to the vastness of it in the early days of exploration. The idea of Manifest Destiny – the God given right of the people to explore the country and claim land for the United States drove citizens to head West and explore this land.
As technology continued to increase in farming and agriculture it was important for the people to find locations in which to use these techniques.
Lack of raw materials such as wood made it very difficult for settlers in Kansas. They were resourceful as the woman in this picture gathered buffalo chips to burn for food and heat. Without a supply of timber, the settlers were forced to resort to other means. With the promise of forests and a steady supply of timber in the West
Early Americans desired to develop their businesses in areas where there was significant traffic and a high need. In this image, Santa Fe move S.E. Cave’s office from Santa Fe to Sublette, Kansas, the new Haskell County seat. This proved to be a much more prosperous area due to the Santa Fe Railroad.
With the huge advancements of the railroad since the end of the Civil War, people were constantly seeking out the vast opportunities provided out West. With the huge development of the transcontinental railroad settlers were able to experience the vast area of the West.
Citizens were desperate to own their own land – to a part of something and to capture the essence of the land. With the open expansion of the West – this was a welcome promise for many settlers who did not own land. Prior to the opening of the West legislation such as the Homestead Act and the Timber Culture Act had been the only opportunities for settlers to own land.
New opportunities of leisure and natural resources were also strong draws to the West. The chance for early settlers to be a part of the Great Outdoors and bring it into their daily life was a monumental draw to making a change in their urban lives.
As time has evolved, citizens have come to find great appeal in the Western ideals and lifestyle which was so prominent in the past. Today, companies thrive on the desire of people to be outside and involving themselves with nature. As Wrobel wrote in Promised Lands , it is even in modern real estate as investors are looking for the modern Westernized home or business in which to invest.
Even in this picture from 1899 aspects of the West can be seen in both the style of the house as well as the material used to build the house. This house has the single story and wide expanse both common in the West. It is also made from the adobe material popular in many parts of the West and Southwest.
Modern Westernization is not a new concept, but instead a stereotype long routed in the states West of the Mississippi. Even in sample pictures from this pamphlet from between 1940 and 1960 advertising Kansas, the state is displayed as being rooted in agriculture and stout in history. While even within the same pages it describes the rich aeronautical resources and the diverse urban opportunities.
In California was the continued development of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. In this picture from 1973, a diesel shop in San Bernardino, California, houses diesel engines for repair and as a holding station as products are prepared for the engines to transport across the United States.
Modern building companies now offer options to build log cabin style homes on the plains of Kansas, in the mountains of Colorado or in the desert in Arizona. With the vast new developments in engineering and landscape development the spread of modern Westernization is inevitable.
With the diverse changes in landscape that occur as you move west through the United States it is crucial to examine the development of the population distribution. With the changes occurring in history and the desire for expansionism, it is important to look at how the memories of the West led to modern Westernization.