Growth and Transformation After two great wars, the United States comes of age Next, immense cattle ranches appeared in Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakota territory. Western cities flourished as centers for the slaughter and dressing of meat. The cattle boom peaked in the mid-1880s. By then, not far behind the rancher creaked the covered wagons of the farmers bringing their families, their draft horses, cows, and pigs. Under the Homestead Act they staked their claims and fenced them with a new invention, barbed wire. Ranchers were ousted from lands they had roamed without legal title. Ranching and the cattle drives gave American mythology its last icon of frontier culture – the cowboy. The reality of cowboy life was one of grueling hardship. As depicted by writers like Zane Grey and such movie actors as John Wayne, the cowboy was a
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