Go West: U.S. Westward Expansion - SCENES OF UNSPOILED BEAUTY

SCENES OF UNSPOILED BEAUTY (Illustration) Social Studies Visual Arts Geography Nineteenth Century Life American History Native-Americans and First Peoples  Ethics

In the summer of 1871, the artist Thomas Moran joined the U.S. Geological Survey of the Territories.  Ferdinand V. Hayden headed this scientific exploration of lands along the Yellowstone River in northwestern Wyoming and southeastern Montana. Having an artist with the group helped to stimulate public interest. This image depicts a chromolithograph (by L. Prang & Co.) of Moran’s painting, “The Great Blue Spring of the Lower Geyser Basin, Yellowstone.”


As pioneers and explorers began to "Go West," the American government, through the U.S. Geological Survey, commissioned a study of the territories. Some of the best artists of the day took part and have left us with incredible scenes of unspoiled beauty.

  • Great Falls of Snake River, Idaho Territory (Thomas Moran)
  • 1863 Rocky Mountains (Albert Bierstadt, artist; James David Smillie, engraver)
  • The Rocky Mountains in 1871 (W. Whitteredge, artist; R. Hinshelwood, engraver)
  • Great Falls of the Yellow Stone River (William Henry Jackson)

Beyond gorgeous landscapes, soaring mountains and the astonishing Grand Canyon, "The West" offered a place for people to start a new life.  With little regard for existing ownership rights - such as tribal lands belonging to Native Americans - the United States government announced the "Homestead Act."

"Free land," in other words, was there for the taking (as long as an individual met certain requirements).

Let's investigate how the system worked.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Aug 01, 2005

Updated Last Revision: Dec 31, 2016

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"SCENES OF UNSPOILED BEAUTY" AwesomeStories.com. Aug 01, 2005. Jun 05, 2020.
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