what were some impacts the railroads had on west settlement in the late 1800's?
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There were no highways or roads as we know them today in those days with wagons and horses still the primary means of transport for many. So when they expanded West, it opened up a vast frontier to a new wave of settlers tempted by vast swaths of open (and cheap) land.
Huge numbers began moving in thanks to spending only a few days on the train as opposed to weeks on a trail, creating the early population centers for what would later become a number of new states carved out from the West shaping the United States' future.
But as much as it helped grow the United States, this also had negative affects on the Native Americans. Buffalo herds and migrations were disrupted by the railroads moving west, if not the growing number of settlements, helping to lead to their near extinction and depleting a vital food resource for the Native Americans. Railroads heading West would often cut through native lands, whether they liked it or not, with the American military often stepping in to protect these from attacks.