Cumberland Gap

This 1986 film explores the significance of the Cumberland Gap to the movement of people for thousands of years, especially in Westward growth in what is now the United States.

For more about Western US History, check out our PowerPoints and Simulation Games:

The Westward Movement of the American Pioneer, 1870

This video reenacts the experience of pioneers in 1870, following the Carter family from Illinois to the Midwestern plains. Each family member is described, linking them to the experiences of the other early white settlers in the region. They meet another family on their journey and hang around the fire together, talking and playing the fiddle. Next, they run into cattlemen who believe the Great Plains exist for grazing, not farming. The narrator describes the hard work needed to plant a crop of corn and settle into a sod house, which is built with help from a neighbor. Their new life revolves around planting, tending, and harvesting their crop. The scarcity of resources is described in order to show the deliberacy of each action taken by the family. Music is an important part of the lonely life on the Plains, and it unites neighbors and keeps up the spirits of the family in their hard life.

Although we have not included this video in any of our PowerPoints, if you interested in more about the western experience, please view our Westward Movement and The West: 1865-1900.

The Great Train Robbery, an early Western film

This 1903 film was based on Butch Cassidy’s holdup of the Union Pacific Railroad train in 1900 near Table Rock, Wyoming. The robbers were able to make the conductor separate the cars and escaped with $5,000 in cash from a mail car safe.¬† The almost 10 minute film was revolutionary at the time, incorporating several techniques that became an important part of later film making. It is broken down into 3 parts below.

Although we have not included this video in any of our PowerPoints, it could be included in any discussion of the “Old West”. If you are looking for a presentation on the first half of the 19th century check out our Westward Movement; the last half of the 19th century is in our West: Miners, Ranchers, Farmers, and Native Americans presentation.

Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 4:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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