The Frontier, trailbazed by legendary pioneers like Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, was declared closed, with exquisite bathos, by the American Census Bureau in 1890. Its demise owed less to iconic pacifiers like Wyatt Earp and Pat Garrett than to America’s rocketing population growth. The insatiable pursuit of land was given federal impetus by successive Homestead Acts (from 1862), and access westward was facilitated by transcontinental rail links (1869–97). The development of the network was spurred by economic booms generated by successive mineral ‘rushes’ fed by rich finds of gold, silver and copper in the western territories. Its booming population rapidly exceeding the requisite population thresholds, the Pacific seaboard was incorporated into states from 1850. The Northwest and Rockies followed in the 1880s. When a Paiute prophet and shaman foresaw the departure of the white man, many dispossessed Indians turned to a ‘Ghost Dance’ religious movement. The white man responded with the massacre at Wounded Knee (1890).
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