The Homestead Act of 1862 gave each head of a family 160 acres of farm land for only $10. The family had to live on the land or grow crops for five years and the land would be his. This ended the way of life for the Native Americans.
After passing the Homestead Act, the government opened up large areas of land for settlers. On specific days, the land would be opened to anyone who wanted to rush in and stake a claim. One great land rush took place in 1889.
On April 22, 1889, 25,000 men, women, and children lined up at the edge of the territory. At noon a gun signaled for everyone to rush in and stake out a piece of land. By nightfall 2,000,000 acres which had previously been Indian territory was claimed by settlers.
By 1890 the west was heavily populated by white settlers. Some of the problems they faced were:
Summer on the plains stayed at around 100 degrees.
Winters were often below zero degrees.
The dry season brought fires.
Swarms of grasshoppers could come through and destroy crops.
The Pony Express