Why cattle ranching developed on the Great Plains
Vast fortunes were made for a while out of cattle ranching on the Great Plains. The industry was based on a combination of factors that made it highly profitable, though unfortunately for the cattle barons the bonanza did not last for ever.
The underlying factor in the development of cattle ranching was the free availability of three crucial natural products:
These, together with a huge and growing market for beef in the north, meant that ranching became a good way to make a living.
For ranching to work, several things had to be in place. The railroads were a critical factor in the development of cattle ranching - without them the cattle would not have reached the marketplace. The long drives (which took the cattle to the railroads), cow-towns and stockyards (where the cattle were loaded onto the trains) were also all vital in getting the product to market.
The cowboys were another essential ingredient - without their skills nothing, particularly the long drives, would have been possible.
Other factors added weight to the basic elements.
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