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Volume 5 - Geography

Geography Aligned Railroad Resources for the study of Westward Expansion

Essential Question: How did railroads affect the development of the western United States in the last half of the 19th Century?
Teaching Notes from the album creator

The discovery of gold in California in 1848 inspired a massive human migration first in a westward direction and subsequently eastward from there to Nevada and Colorado where later discoveries were made. The travels of the first gold seekers were difficult and time consuming as the choices for easterners to travel to the gold fields were overland by wagon trains or by sea; the Atlantic Ocean to the Isthmus of Panama, overland to the Pacific Ocean sailing northward to California.

Teaching Notes from the album creator

Travelers who crossed the Great Plains and traversed the Rocky Mountains began to realize that perhaps there was value in something other than gold and later silver. As the population in the western territories grew, both sections realized that a better transportation system, e.g. railroads, would greatly benefit the economies of both sections.

Teaching Notes from the album creator

Passage of the Homestead Act (1862) and the Transcontinental Railroad Acts of 1862 and 1864 set the stage for the development of the western United States in the latter half of the 19th century.

Teaching Notes from the album creator

Geographic Thinking Skill(s):

  • Analyze how historical events and the spatial diffusion of ideas, technologies, and cultural practices have influenced migration patterns and the distribution of the human population.
  • Evaluate how political and economic decisions influence cultural and environmental characteristics of various places and regions.


The South Side of Chicago - Tips for photo mapping research journey

An album is a great place to combine screen shots from 3D maps, photo research, media creations and primary sources to uncover the history of a community. This album is based on a blog post in Picture This Double Take: A Research Journey to 1941 Chicago

This photo [below] from a series in the Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection has always captivated my attention. It is not only a compelling image but also family members of mine lived in Chicago’s “Black Belt” during the 1940s & 50s.

Overhead view of what is now at 5420
Google Street View today of 5420
5450 in 1941


Just off I-35. . . What's in your backyard?

What’s in your back yard? Primary sources are all around us, often in the most likely places. Two miles off the beaten path of Interstate 35, the Iowa Welcome Center and Dows Historic District showcase the past of a small agricultural town in North Central Iowa. Memorabilia are housed in this once busy depot built in 1896. This town of just 530 has three buildings on the National Register of Historic Sites.

The stop was part of our trip to Kansas City, MO and an inspiration for a future journal article, Just Off I-35. (LMC Connection 2014) The article includes tips and some curriculum ideas. This album is a north to south journey of selected discoveries Just off I-35.

Teaching Notes from the album creator

Clear Lake, Iowa has been a vacation spot for decades. (Photo: The lake in 1908)

Clear Lake is also home to the Surf Ballroom, the spot where Buddy Holly played his final concert before his plane crashed just outside of Clear Lake. The Surf looks as it did in the 50's and is still home to concerts and dances, including a winter dance party honoring Buddy Holly. Photo: crash wreckage

Stars over Clear Lake is historical fiction partially set at the Surf Ballroom during World War II. The story line features a local girl and German POW at Camp Algona a German Prisoner of War Camp west of Clear Lake and I-35. Stars over Clear Lake.

Teaching Notes from the album creator

Kansas City, Missouri offers varied historic sites and museums. The National World War I museum has a wide range of galleries, exhibits and educational offerings

The American Negro Baseball league museum in a historic African-American neighborhood honors the rich history of the Negro Leagues. Kansas City baseball museum pays tribute to the Negro Leagues

The Arabia steamboat museum exhibits artifacts excavated from the site of a packet boat that sunk in the Missouri River just outside of Kansas City. It’s a fascinating look at household goods, clothing, kitchen supplies and everything else needed by settlers west of the Missouri River. https://www.1856.com/

Teaching Notes from the album creator

The Harry S Truman home and Presidential Library are in Independence, just west of Kansas City.

Harry S. Truman House, 219 North Delaware Street, Independence, Jackson County, MO.

Teaching Notes from the album creator

In 1920 three African American men were lynched in the city of Duluth for a crime they did not commit. The Clayton Jackson McGhee Memorial honors these men in downtown Duluth through large relief sculptures of the three and a host of quotations alongside their story. The three men are memorialized in a downtown Duluth and at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice Montgomery Alabama.

The Minnesota dots on the Lynchings by State and Counties map represent the 1920 lynching of 3 Black circus workers. The mob action followed an alleged rape of white women in Duluth (Duluth is a port city in the extreme Southeast corner of St. Louis County, not where depicted by the dots.)

Print of the Lynching

It would be fun to see this album grow. What’s in your back yard?

The Library of Congress and the Library’s web guide, State Digital Resources: Memory Projects, Online Encyclopedias, Historical & Cultural Materials Collections will help you discover many treasures.


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Created By
Kile Clabaugh